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Kaine & Warner Reintroduce Bill to Modernize Virginia’s Aging Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Senate Budget Committee, and Senator Mark R. Warner, a member of the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, reintroduced the School Infrastructure Modernization Act, legislation to help modernize schools in Virginia and across the nation. This bill would adjust the current federal historic rehabilitation tax credit to make school buildings that continue to operate as schools eligible for the credit. Under current law, the credit only applies to buildings renovated to serve a different function than before. This bill would waive this ‘prior use’ clause for school renovation projects, allowing school districts with aging infrastructure and tight budgets to partner with private entities to finance renovations that the districts otherwise would not be able to afford. Older schools can often be renovated for less money than the cost of new construction. Representative Dwight Evans (D-PA-3) introduced companion legislation on the House side.

While Mayor of Richmond, Kaine led a coalition to utilize the historic tax credit to finance the renovation of a closed public school and reopen it as the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further underscored the need to ensure our schools are modern and safe learning environments,” said the Senators. “By modernizing schools, we can help more students learn, support local economies with construction jobs, and maintain the character of these historic institutions.”

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program has played a role in rehabilitating historic structures and revitalizing communities for more than 35 years. In the Commonwealth alone, the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (HTC) has helped restore more than 1,200 structures since 1997. According to a June report from the Virginia Department of Education, over half of all schools in Virginia—more than 1,000 schools—are at least 50 years old.

Earlier this month, Kaine joined Representative Evans on a letter calling for the inclusion of this legislation in the final Build Back Better bill. The legislation was included in the latest House Ways and Means Committee draft of the Build Back Better bill. In March, Kaine joined Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) in introducing the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act, legislation that would build on Kaine and Warner’s bill by investing $130 billion over ten years to modernize K-12 classrooms across the country and help schools upgrade their physical and digital infrastructure. 

To see full text of the School Infrastructure Modernization Act, please click here.