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Christopher Murphy

08/04/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/04/2020 19:52

MURPHY CALLS FOR INCREASED FEDERAL FUNDING FOR EDUCATION TO MAKE SURE STATES AND CITIES CAN SAFELY REOPEN SCHOOLS

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

WASHINGTON-As negotiations continued on a COVID-19 relief bill, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Tuesday to blast his Republican colleagues in the U.S. Senate for not proposing sufficient funding for schools to safely reopen this fall. During his remarks, Murphy pointed out that schools will need additional funding for masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and adjustments to help comply with CDC guidelines in order to reopen safely amidst this global pandemic.

'I want my kids to go back to school, but I want school to make all the investments necessary to keep them safe. And what we know is that safety for kids doesn't magically fall from a tree. You have to pay for it. Masks and gloves and sanitizer and cleaning supplies-they cost money. Adjustments to school buildings to create enough social distance to comply with CDC regulations-that costs money. Hiring additional teachers and support staff to keep schools safe-that costs money,'said Murphy.

Murphy added: 'And with state and local budgets that are hemorrhaging and no revenue coming in, there is no money to make those investments. It is only Congress that can come to the rescue of millions of parents and kids who want schools to reopen, but want it to be done safely.'

'…[S]chools are opening in a matter of weeks, and if we don't make these investments, if we don't give 100% of the money necessary to reopen our schools, then lives are going to be at risk. We are beyond the point of a Band-Aid in order to get our kids back to school. We need to do the right thing and a step up to the plate with a comprehensive approach to school funding,'Murphy concluded.

The full text of Murphy's remarks is below:

'Thank you very much, Leader Schumer. Thank you, Senator Klobuchar. Listen, Republicans can't wish this crisis away. They can't pretend that the situation is getting better when it is getting worse. Unemployment claims have risen two weeks in a row. In 14 days, we went from 3 million cases to 4 million cases. And so, we are at a moment where a Band Aid is totally insufficient to treat the wound.

'As Senator Schumer said, there are many in the Republican caucus that don't want to vote for anything. There are others that want to vote for something wholly insufficient. Well, I wanted to talk for a minute about an upcoming investment that we cannot postpone, not more than one single day. I'm a parent of two school-aged kids. I've got an 11 year old and 8 year old who are in the public school system. And I think my perspective is probably representative of most parents. I want my kids to go back to school, but I want school to make all the investments necessary to keep them safe. And what we know is that safety for kids doesn't magically fall from a tree. You have to pay for it. Masks and gloves and sanitizer and cleaning supplies-they cost money. Adjustments to school buildings to create enough social distance to comply with CDC regulations-that costs money. Hiring additional teachers and support staff to keep schools safe-that costs money.

'And with state and local budgets that are hemorrhaging and no revenue coming in, there is no money to make those investments. It is only Congress that can come to the rescue of millions of parents and kids who want schools to reopen, but want it to be done safely. Here's one example. Amy Spies is a [fourth] grade teacher in Daytona, Florida. Her classroom is so small that normally, normally her kids don't even have enough room to put their backpacks on the back of their chairs. And she is getting no help. No additional space. They aren't hiring any additional teachers in Daytona to try to space out the learning day, she's going to cram 22 kids into a small classroom, in violation of CDC regulations. Why? Because her school district already has a $14 million deficit. And so without federal funding, those kids and those teachers are going to be in jeopardy.

'And this is happening all over the country. Now, the slapdash proposal that was unveiled last week by Republicans has no flexible money in it for states and cities to help reopen schools, and the money they have in there is loaded with all sorts of bells and whistles and mandates and requirements that make it impossible for schools to adequately reopen after years of Republicans talking to us about removing federal mandates for local education. Now, all of a sudden, they are telling schools you can't get money to reopen unless you do it our way. So I'm grateful to Senator Schumer for understanding what parents like me are dealing with right now. For demanding that we allocate every dime necessary to reopen our schools safely now, because schools are opening in a matter of weeks, and if we don't make these investments, if we don't give 100% of the money necessary to reopen our schools, then lives are going to be at risk. We are beyond the point of a band aid-in order to get our kids back to school. We need to do the right thing and a step up to the way with a comprehensive approach to school funding.'

Click hereto view video of Murphy's remarks.

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