The annual Infrastructure Week is once again in the rearview mirror, and we hope our social media posts have helped to contribute to the discussion on one of the most important topics facing our country.
We mentioned last week that repairs to our roads and bridges are infrastructure projects we can all get behind. This week we wanted to mention one more: our schools.
As our economy and employment base continues to evolve, it’s imperative that our public schools evolve with it. That means not only the curriculum, but also the facilities themselves. Everyday nearly 50 million American kids attend public school in about 100,000 facilities, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). ASCE estimates that roughly a quarter of all K-12 schools are in “fair” or “poor” condition. That’s not where this country should be when it comes to the condition of our schools. The annual funding gap – ASCE’s estimate of a financing gap – is $38 billion. Most of that will have to come through the issuance of bonds.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority is the state-level issuers of bonds for public school construction throughout the Commonwealth, having contributed more than $13 billion towards school repair and new construction. The State of Georgia is coming to market with $1.2 billion in bonds next month, with plans to fund nearly $500 million for higher education and another nearly $400 million for K-12 projects. In Rhode Island, voters in November will vote on a $250 million bond issue that was part of the governor’s budget proposal this year. If approved, it will mean a quarter billion dollars in the Ocean State will fund things like science and engineering facilities, early childhood education, and bringing existing facilities up to date.
We inevitably get cynical when it comes to discussing government, but isn’t it obvious that we need to invest more in our K-12 school facilities if we want to maintain the level of growth, wealth and discovery that we’ve all come to expect? The States of Georgia and Rhode Island are just two of many thousands of issuers throughout the country that access private capital in the municipal bond market to improve education for our children. There’s a lot of buzz right now around sustainable investments, but what’s more sustainable than bonds used to fund the schools where our next generation of our leaders with learn?
BondLink is looking forward to Infrastructure Week 2019 already, and we hope these discussions continue until then. It’s #TimetoBuild