INDIANAPOLIS – Public school transportation systems will no longer face the threat of termination, thanks to legislation coauthored by State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie).
House Bill 1062, which passed unanimously out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday (Feb. 20), will allow schools suffering at least a 10-percent loss in revenue in their bus transportation resources to gain greater ability to manage their funds in order to fill in the gaps.
Rep. Errington explains provisions of her bus-protection bill in this 17-second audio file.
After cutting $12 million in the last three years corporation-wide because of property tax caps, Muncie schools now stand to lose 89 percent of their transportation budget this year. School corporations used to be able to spread out the losses from property tax caps among several funds but new protected tax legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2012 no longer allows such reallocation.
“This bill will help keep the buses running in Muncie, as well as other school systems, at no additional cost to taxpayers,” said Errington. “It simply restores flexibility for schools to manage their funds to avoid the crisis that is facing the Muncie school district.”
The bill provides a three-year moratorium on the implementation of the Protected Taxes language that passed in 2012 that protected certain funds from the impact of property tax caps and created shortfalls in unprotected funds, including bus transportation. The moratorium will give legislators time to find a permanent solution.
“This problem was created by the Legislature in 2012 when a bill passed preventing schools from allocating funds to where they need it, and it’s a problem that needs to be solved by legislative action today,” said Errington.
Errington said she credits the testimony of Muncie School Board President Tony Costello and the League of Women Voters Spokesperson Bea Sousa, who came to the Statehouse on multiple occasions to impress the urgency of a solution on legislators.
“The Muncie community is solidly behind finding a solution for this issue and so am I,” Errington said. “The work I’ve done with Senator Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) is a perfect example of what a Representative and Senator can do by working together with a community to solve a problem.”
House Bill 1062 now moves to the full Senate for further action.