THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT GORE SAYS TEXAS TO RECEIVE SUPPORT
FOR $1.9 BILLION SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BONDS UNDER PRESIDENT'S PLAN
Calls on Congress to Invest in Education and Pass Legislation
Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore announced today that President Clinton's school construction proposal would support nearly $1.9 billion in interest-free bonds to build, repair, and modernize public schools across Texas.
"There is nothing more important for America's future prosperity and strength than giving our children a world-class education," Vice President Gore said. "To do that, we must provide safer, smaller, smarter, cutting-edge classrooms and schools -- places where teachers can teach and students can learn."
At an education town hall meeting in El Paso, Texas, the Vice President called on Congress to pass the President's plan and criticized Republicans for repeatedly blocking this initiative, which would help local communities build and modernize local schools and, in turn, alleviate the problem of overcrowded classrooms.
"Today, 14 million children are sitting in schools that need significant repair work, others are attending over-crowded schools, and many are in classrooms too old to be equipped for computers," said the Vice President, who was joined by Rep. Silvestre Reyes, parents, teachers, students, school board members, representatives of El Paso area school districts, and members of education partnerships.
"For the sake of students in Texas and across the country," he added, "I urge Congress to act on critical proposals to give schools and communities the assistance they need to get our students on the right track."
For Texas, the President's plan would cover the interest on $1.89 billion in state and local bonds, including $271 million in special "qualified zone academy bonds" for low-income public schools involved in school-business partnerships, $786 million in bonds for the 11 Texas school districts with the largest numbers of low-income children (including $68 million for El Paso Independent School District and $43 million for Ysleta) , and $829 million in bonds that would be allocated throughout the state.
For the nation as a whole, the President proposed federal tax credits to pay interest on almost $22 billion in these bonds to build and renovate more than 5,000 public schools. This initiative would mean that the federal government would cover the interest on:
State and Local Bonds to build and modernize public schools. $19.4 billion in 15-year bonds over the next two years --$9.7 billion in 1999 and $9.7 billion in 2000. Half of the bond authority would go directly to the 100 school districts nationally serving the largest number of children from low-income families, in proportion to the shares of funding those districts receive under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I Basic Grant formula. The other half would go to states and territories, also based on the share of the Title I formula, to provide districts with assistance according to each state's overall needs and plan.
Bonds for low-income schools in partnership with businesses. A $2.4 billion increase in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds to fund school construction, renovation, and other expenses in public schools in federal-designated Empowerment Zones or Enterprise Communities, or in which at least 35 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunches. This proposal would add to the $800 million in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds made available last year under legislation that the President and Congress enacted.