Bill to Recapitalize the School Revolving Renovation Fund
AUGUSTA — Legislation from Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, which would give Maine schools the funds to make necessary repairs, upgrades and maintenance, received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
The bill — LD 148 “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Recapitalize the School Revolving Renovation Fund and To Give Priority Status to Certain School Facility Upgrades” — would create a $50 million bond to fund some renovations and urgent repairs.
“The School Revolving Renovation Fund has faced a constant demand larger than the fund itself,” said Sen. Millett. “Many Maine communities’ school buildings require structural upgrades or improvements to avoid the need for new building construction.”
From 1999 to 2015, just under half of the projects requested by the School Revolving Renovation Fund received funding even though there were many other qualified applications. The $50 million bond will fund a portion of the priority projects.
LD 148 would provide funding to schools in order of preference by priority status. The highest priority repairs would include repair or replacement of a roof, bringing a school into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, improving air quality, removing or abating hazardous materials, and undertaking other health, safety and compliance repairs.
At Tuesday’s public hearing, the Maine State Board of Education and Mayor’s Coalition on Economic Jobs and Economic Development spoke in favor of LD 148.
“The unmet need of schools is daunting,” said Wilson Hess, chair of the Maine State Board of Education. “LD 148 can be part of our response.”
The bill faces more action in the committee, and votes before the full Maine House and Senate.