House prioritizes $2 billion towards school construction in new spending proposal

The floor of the Virginia House of Delegates.
The floor of the Virginia House of Delegates.(Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury)
Published: Feb. 20, 2022 at 10:11 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The House Appropriations Committee in the House of Delegates presented amendments to the state’s spending plan over the next two years to include $2 billion in funding for a new program, the School Construction Loan Rebate Program, designed to help repair aging and crumbling schools.

The program was established by House Bill 563, introduced by Deputy Majority Leader Israel O’Quinn of the fifth district.

“The entire Southwest Virginia Legislative Delegation has worked on this with me, and we are excited to see this progress,” Delegate O’Quinn said. “Our delegation has banded together with local school divisions as well as other legislators and school divisions from across the state to tackle this issue. This year, we are finally moving the needle in a meaningful way that will actually solve the problem. I am very thankful that Appropriations Chairman Barry Knight and the Appropriations staff have worked to find a solution to Virginia’s crumbling schools. I am hopeful that this measure will be included in the Budget Conference Report.”

Funding for Virginia school construction has been the sole responsibility of localities. School systems lacking the funds and with no alternative could not address construction needs on their campuses.

The School Construction Loan Rebate Program includes two tiers:

  • Tier 1 will provide rebates for 30% of total principal and interest costs for up to $1 billion in school construction projects;
  • Tier 2 will provide interest free loans for up to $1 billion in school construction projects based on 2021 Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA) bond insurance rate.

The program will be able to finance 80 new elementary school projects in 2022-2024.

The House and Senate will both prepare versions of the budget for consideration. Both chambers will have to pass the School Construction Loan Rebate Program in order for it to take effect, but both have shown a desire to act on school construction funding this session.

If it is included in the Budget Conference Report and approved by both chambers, the program will start on July 1 of this year.

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