Latham, NY, May 20, 2020 – The New York State Bus Distributors Association is calling on the state of New York to dig deep on the current state budget to look for cost savings before cutting education funding.
“It seems counter intuitive that during a time of crisis, Albany would see the need to spend $420 million on tax credits for Hollywood or $100 million to fund political campaigns instead of ensuring our schools are properly funded,” said Robert Reichenbach, president of the New York State Bus Distributors Association.
If New Yorkers want to ensure their children can get to school this fall, the State needs to provide school districts with assurances that adequate funding will be available to fund vital student transportation needs. The situation is especially dire since many private companies that safely transport school children are at risk of closing their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
Since the primary source for the private school transportation industry is public school districts, the surest way to maintain the viability of the industry and safe transportation of students is to cut billions in unnecessary spending contained in this year’s budget and continue the state’s share of education funding as it was enacted in April.
With Governor Cuomo announcing the potential for upwards of $10 billion in mid-year budget cuts, school districts are left with tremendous uncertainty relating to their state funding for operations.
Reichenbach continued, “The state of New York can send a strong message to New York’s families that financial support will be available to get their children to and from school by first cutting unnecessary spending and then reevaluating the situation once the economy reopens fully and tax revenues begin to rebound.”
Few people stop to think about what it takes to get their children to and from school each day. Behind the scenes, one of New York’s largest public-private partnerships comprising school districts, private transportation providers, and school bus distributors hire, train, and employ tens of thousands of school transportation professionals. In addition, school bus distributors source state-of-the-art school busses for school districts and transportation companies ensuring that they are procured at competitive rates – safeguarding taxpayer money. School bus distributors also play a vital role in supporting school districts by providing parts, service, and repair work. They also provide crucial technical training and education for school districts on the latest school bus innovations like environmental and safety features.
This intricate and symbiotic relationship is being threatened by imminent cuts to New York State’s education funding resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects have already been felt. The Baumann Bus Company in Ronkonkoma, one of the largest bus distributors on Long Island, recently closed its doors and laid off its 1,400 employees. School bus dealers and transportation companies in upstate are laying off employees, and should the state cut funding to school districts, they may well face a similar fate as Baumann.
With schools closed for the remainder of this academic year, and uncertainty in the school transportation industry from COVID-19 and an everchanging budgetary landscape, many school transportation professionals are being forced to find employment elsewhere, often with industries that pay more. The effects of this dislocation will be felt when schools resume and there is a shortage of qualified and screened drivers; and the industry goes from standstill to transporting more than 2.3 million students daily overnight.
“Unfortunately, it’s New York families and their students who will pay the price for the budget uncertainty being cast by Albany,” said Reichenbach. “Albany needs to dig deep and cut the billions in new and unnecessary spending included in this year’s state budget and leave education spending alone. Our schools, the 2.3 million children who ride a yellow school bus to school each day, and our public-private school transportation partnership deserve that much.”
About: The New York State Bus Distributors Association represents school bus dealers from across New York that sell, service, and help maintain safe, environmentally friendly school buses for school districts and private school transportation providers. The association’s members provide important services and support to nearly every school district in the state helping them save valuable education resources and ensuring their school buses are running efficiently. www.nysbda.com