Rockefeller secures tax measure to 'benefit' WV infrastructure - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Rockefeller secures tax measure to benefit WV infrastructure

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U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., secured a tax measure he believes will strengthen the infrastructure of the Mountain State.

Rockefeller, along with U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio and Ben Cardin, D-Md., secured a provision in the U.S. Senate Finance Committee that would make it easier for schools to meet the private dollar match required by school construction bonds.

"With a small change to our school bonds, we can make sure more schools districts across the country are able to pay for badly-needed renovations to school buildings," Rockefeller said. "If we aren't doing all we can to give our kids the best learning environment possible, we aren't doing our job."

The amendment calls for lowering the private match requirement from 10 percent to 5 percent. The higher matching requirement has been, according to Rockefeller, a major obstacle for small and rural school districts.

"We've seen these bonds put to good use in West Virginia's schools to make them safer, put in up-to-date heating and air conditioning systems, and add performing arts centers," he said. "I'm glad this provision will help strengthen this already terrific program, and allow more schools to use every available dollar of these bonds."

Rockefeller has been pushing for new school construction investments since 2002 when he first introduced the America's Better Classrooms (ABC) Act. He also worked to include key school construction provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. Most recently, Rockefeller introduced the Rebuilding America's Schools Act, which aims to strengthen and expand school construction bond programs in order to encourage school rehabilitation and construction.

Another measure Rockefeller secured would give low-income housing developers more predictability when using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to acquire and renovate existing housing. The provision replaces the floating rate used by the program with a four percent fixed rate so developers are better able to predict how much they will receive in tax credits. In recent years, historically low interest rates have reduced the value of the credits. This has resulted in fewer resources for low-income housing in West Virginia and other states.