NYSBDA Calls on Governor and Legislature to Remove School Transportation Funding Cut in State Budget

Read NYSBDA’s letter to the Governor and Legislature:

The New York State Bus Distributors Association  would like to express our opposition to provisions in this year’s education budget proposal (A.9506/S.7506) which would impose a new school transportation aid formula and cause arbitrary cuts to school transportation funding beginning fiscal year 2021-2022.

Specifically, the executive budget proposal establishes a confusing inflation-based formula which equals the greater of either the consumer price index (CPI) or the CPI plus a five-year resident enrollment index.  Both of these indexes do not take into consideration the actual cost-drivers of student transportation; and therefore, are not accurate predictors of year-to-year changes in the cost of school transportation.

We respectfully ask that these provisions be removed from the proposed budget.  The provisions can be found on page 21, lines 33-35 and page 22, lines 25-33 of A.9506 and S.7506.

School transportation spending is a vital educational expense.  Like many other vital services provided by our state government, any growth in school transportation costs should be prioritized above non-essential state spending.  Unfortunately, this is not the case under the current executive budget proposal.

As a professional association dedicated to school transportation safety, we pride ourselves on helping school districts manage their school bus fleets.  New York’s bus distributors sell and service school buses that are safe, efficient and environmentally friendly.  Our members work closely with school districts to effectively manage costs.  Unfortunately, with all that we do to help control costs, there are still times when school transportation costs exceed projections caused by cost-drivers beyond our control.

Some of biggest factors that contribute to increased costs in school transportation are driver shortages, state mandates that require school districts to transport children with special needs; children in foster care and homeless children; and children enrolled in charter, private and parochial schools.  These are all very important transportation requirements; but their unpredictability cannot be understated for budget projection purposes.

In addition, healthcare costs continue to rise by double digits in our state, and now the Governor is considering raising taxes by more than $2.5 billion on private health insurance plans.  This is a cost that will have to be included in the cost of the service and support we provide to our school district partners.  We hope the Governor and legislature will look at real solutions to help reduce health insurance and prescription drug costs, instead of raising taxes and over-regulating pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s) out of existence – the one entity that fights to for and negotiates lower medication prices for small businesses and consumers.

Additionally, as safety technologies and environmental laws continue to evolve, school buses are getting even safer and cleaner, but that means they are also getting more and more expensive to purchase and to service.

Under the proposed school transportation formula, none of the aforementioned cost-drivers are taken into consideration, which would force school districts to make cuts to school transportation services. 

Further, it appears that the unintended consequences of this proposed school transportation aid formula is that the formula will become regressive and hurt high-needs districts — leading to higher school property taxes in those areas.

For all the above reasons, we ask that you oppose the 2020-2021 executive budget proposal to cut school transportation funding and remove these harmful provisions in the Governor’s executive budget proposal.

Thank you for your consideration.  We are available to discuss the contents of this letter with you further should you need additional information or insight.

Respectfully,

Robert Reichenbach
President
New York State Bus Distributors Association

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