Jobs bill would direct millions to Md. schools, White House says
Maryland schools would receive $315.8 million in federal construction money and $114.2 million would be directed to Baltimore City Schools under the $447 billion jobs bill President Barack Obama sent to Congress this week, according to estimates released Tuesday by the White House.
The money is part of a $25 billion program the Obama administration says would be used to modernize 35,000 public school across the country. Of that money, $10 billion would be directed toward the 100 largest high-need public school districts, including Baltimore, Prince George's County and Montgomery County schools, according to a list released by the Obama administration.
New estimates on the impact of the jobs plan come as the administration tries to sell the legislation directly to the public. Obama travels to Ohio Tuesday to visit a high school in Columbus as part of that effort. The president unveiled the jobs plan in a speech to Congress last week and has aggressively pushed for its passage. The measure has faced resistance from some Republicans who are concerned about its cost and whether it would create enough jobs to have an impact on the economy.
The projections are only estimates and they are being crafted by the same administration that is pressuring Congress to pass the bill. Predicting the economic impact of economic policies is notoriously difficult as the Obama administration learned during the debate over the 2009 economic stimulus.
School money allocated by the latest jobs bill could not be used for new construction, only renovating or upgrading current buildings. To ensure projects and the hiring of construction workers gets underway rapidly, the bill requires schools to spend the money by Sept. 30, 2012.
The White House estimates the funding has the potential to create 4,100 jobs in Maryland.
Maryland's aging school buildings have long been a top concern for education officials and lawmakers. Baltimore County recently estimated it would have to spend $2.2 billion to modernize its buildings, while the estimated need totals $2.8 billion for the city.
In addition to the school funding, the administration estimates some $625.5 million in transportation money would be spent in Maryland under the plan. Another $541.7 million would be used to help the state pay salaries for teachers, police and firefighters. Maryland would receive $20 million -- the minimum for a state under the law -- to renovate foreclosed and abandoned properties.