Press Release

April 26, 2021
Cardin, Cortez Masto & Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Upgrade Schools and Public Buildings

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) today introduced the Public Buildings Renewal Act, bipartisan legislation that incentivizes private investment to rebuild schools and other public buildings through public-private partnerships. Implementing public-private partnerships to fund repairs in just 20% of all government buildings would create 1.3 million jobs nationwide and generate over $85.9 billion worth of new public buildings in the next 10 years.

“Schools and other public buildings are a key component of our national infrastructure and must be included in our strategy for building back better,” said Senator Cardin. “Upgrading our buildings with an eye towards safety, health, and environmental sustainability benefits our economy, our productivity, and our neighborhoods while supporting new jobs here in the United States.”

“Across Nevada, school buildings are in desperate need of repair, including some schools in rural counties that are over 100 years old, and we need to work across the aisle to spur the investments necessary to rebuild them,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This legislation is a commonsense solution that will invest billions in our local schools and buildings while helping Americans across the country get back to work. As Nevada’s school children get back to in-person learning, it is vital that they have safe, upgraded facilities, and I’ll continue to work across the aisle to make sure we can revitalize them while creating jobs and boosting our state’s economy.”

“Many of our schools, courthouses, hospitals, and other public buildings in Indiana are in need of upgrades, particularly as in-person learning resumes for our schools as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Public Buildings Renewal Act would enable local governments to more quickly address these needs by leveraging public-private partnerships to generate significant investment in critical upgrades. This bill will help to ensure that students, teachers, public employees, and Hoosiers across the state can safely access these spaces to work and learn for years to come,” said Senator Young.

“This legislation will allow the private sector to invest in public infrastructure across the country, such as public buildings and schools in need of upgrades in South Carolina,” said Senator Graham. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to find bipartisan solutions to fix our infrastructure needs while also benefitting the taxpayer.”

“As former Superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, I know how important a safe school environment is to student well-being,” said Senator Bennet. “For our kids and all Coloradans who spend time in our public buildings – from our schools and hospitals to our courthouses – we need to make a concerted effort to invest in projects that make our public buildings more safe and more energy efficient,” said Bennet. “This bipartisan legislation will make that overdue investment by giving state and local leaders the tools they need to accelerate those projects and create jobs.”

“As South Carolinians get back to their normal lives it’s crucial that our schools, libraries, and other public buildings are updated and ready to suit the needs of our communities,” said Senator Scott. “By incentivizing private investment, this bill ensures those needs are met without adding to our national debt and burdening American workers. I look forward to seeing the economic growth and opportunity this plan will bring for folks across our state and the entire nation.”

In the United States, public-private partnerships (P3s) have been primarily used for transportation projects and are currently ineligible to use federal tax exempt facility bonds. The bipartisan Public Buildings Renewal Act would open the American public buildings market to P3s. The bill would create a $5 billion Private Activity Bond allocation for state and local governments, allowing public buildings, including hospitals, courthouses and schools, to access private investment for the first time. Once enacted, state and local governments would be able to enter into long-term contracts with a private sector company to design, build, finance, and/or operate the building for a defined period of time. Private investment in public buildings provides state and local governments with access to private capital, accelerated project development, reduced risk, and the ability to spread out payments over the length of the contractual term. The ownership of the building, however, would always remain with the government entity.