S.C. Governor Rejects Budget to Replace Declining School Buses
In total, the governor has vetoed $56.4 million of the state’s $8 billion budget.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster vetoed $20.5 million of a $28.9 million budget proposal to upgrade the state’s aging school bus fleet.
The proposed budget would be funded by lottery profits, according to the Island Packet.
The state’s lottery was created to fund student scholarships. McMaster says that is where its money will continue to go. “Relying on the lottery for spending money is not a responsible budgeting practice. If additional lottery proceeds become available in the next year, they should be carried forward for use as scholarships for South Carolinians.”
McMaster also released a video on social media regarding the veto, stating “Voters were promised that lottery money would be used only for scholarships for our young people.”
In 2007, state lawmakers said that they would replace the buses every 15 years. The majority of the current fleet is over 20 years old.
Those in support of replacements are concerned with the safety of the buses.
Since August 2015, there have been 17 instances where school buses either overheated or caught fire, reported thestate.com.
South Carolina Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman, states “By vetoing funding for the purchase of new school buses, the governor is putting the safety of our students at risk. Not only are these old buses twice as expensive to operate and maintain, but they are also experiencing structural and mechanical issues.”
Last month, Campus Safety reported on a school bus driver in South Carolina that had to evacuate 56 students when her bus caught fire. She was able to get all of the students off the bus in under a minute, according to Superintendent Scott Turner. There were no injuries.
The bus was part of a fleet purchased during the 1995-96 school year consisting of 2,100 buses. Design features of these particular buses, such as poor engine placement, have made the buses hard to inspect or repair.
Spearman, among others, plans to attempt to override his veto. It will take a two-thirds vote in both the S.C. House and Senate to do so.