COLUMBIA, S.C. — State lawmakers have voted to override the governor’s veto of $20.5 million in funding for hundreds of new school buses, The State reports.
The South Carolina Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to overturn the veto, and the House voted to override it last week, according to the newspaper.
The funds will help the state revamp its aging school bus fleet. As School Bus Fleet previously reported, more than 1,500 of the state’s 5,582 buses are more than 20 years old. Many school districts in the state have struggled with safety concerns because of aging buses, including bus fires earlier this month, in November, and in May.
Ryan Brown, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Education, told The State that new buses will be distributed across the state, and each school district will receive new buses by fall.
In June, Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed the funds, citing concerns over how state lottery money is used: He said that voters were promised that lottery money would be used for scholarships. However, the lottery law states that some of its profits can be used for school bus purchases and repairs, according to The State.
McMaster’s office told The Post and Courier in June that he is concerned about the state’s aging buses, but that taking surpluses from lottery proceeds is not the way to pay for them. The State reports that in McMaster’s 2018-19 executive budget proposal, he recommends doubling the money that the South Carolina Department of Education receives every year for new buses to $10 million. However, the department asked the state for $70 million more to replace old buses.
Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman said that the senators’ votes “could well save children’s lives,” but that he wished the funds hadn’t been vetoed and “would have been available six months ago,” according to the newspaper.