Thompson Attempts to Rein-In Out-of-Control Spending

May 14, 2009
Press Release

Washington, DC—U.S. Representative Glenn `GT’ Thompson, R-Howard, today used a parliamentary procedure on the floor of the House of Representatives to add a deficit trigger into a bill called The 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act (H.R. 2187).  The vote split on party lines and the measure failed 182 to 247.

“With this bill, the federal government bites off more than it can chew or our future generations can digest,” Thompson said.   “Nationalization and regulation of the bricks and mortar of our schools is not the direction we should be heading when the federal government has yet to make good on funding commitments for education programming.”

This bill could cost as much as $40 billion over five years, and it undermines the state and local control of school construction while expanding the role of the federal government. It requires states and school districts to modernize school buildings while meeting regulations that building materials meet certain environmental rules.

Thompson asked for a motion to recommit the bill after it passed on the floor of the House.  That request allowed him to offer his amendment that if the deficit reached $500 billion annually, the funds for the Green Public School Facilities would be halted.

Thompson told his House colleagues, “Half a trillion is an awfully high bar.   In fact, in the entire time George W. Bush was President—in fact, in the entire history of our great nation!—our deficit has never exceeded $500 billion.”

Thompson explained that this measure does not change the bill as written but, “It will ensure this new program will wait until we can afford it.”

He said, “Despite the majority’s hollow promises of fiscal responsibility, there is nothing in this legislation to offset this hefty price tag with spending reductions elsewhere.”

The government is expected to run a deficit of $1.84 trillion—about $90 billion higher than we were told in February.  “This bill, no matter how well intentioned, will add billions to the federal debt,” said Thompson.  “It requires that all school construction projects must comply with Davis -Bacon wage mandates that will drive up the costs more than 20 percent.”
Thompson concluded, “Maybe one day the federal government will be able to afford $40 billion to tell schools how to maintain their facilities.  But that day is not today.”

This measure has the potential to siphon resources from other longstanding education priorities and does nothing for student academic achievement.  “The creation of a new federal school construction program adds another competing program that will make it increasingly difficult to fulfill funding commitments already in place—such as the Title I program for disadvantaged students and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” said Thompson.