The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) has shown its support for the reintroduction of the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Tax Exemption Act and expressed gratitude to U.S. Representatives Darin LaHood (IL-18) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) for their continued leadership on this matter.
Additionally, the organization commended Representatives John Rose (TN-6), Mike Kelly (PA-16), Jared Golden (ME-2), and Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) for their backing of the proposal.
CERTS Act and Vital Support for School Bus Contractors During COVID-19 Pandemic
Initially introduced to address substantial economic losses experienced by the transportation industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CERTS Act aimed to provide assistance to private school bus contractors. Through CERTS Program grants, these contractors received crucial funding to maintain essential student transportation services. However, unlike other COVID-19 relief programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program, Shuttered Venues Operators Grant, and Restaurant Revitalization Fund, CERTS funds were not considered tax exempt under existing legislation.
School bus operators played a vital role in delivering essential services to schools nationwide during the 2020-21 school year, and the CERTS Program provided vital support to sustain these efforts. Nevertheless, the grants only covered about 20% of the revenue losses incurred.
The recipients of CERTS Grants are predominantly struggling businesses, and subjecting them to taxes on emergency grant funding would hinder their recovery. NSTA emphasized the necessity for Congress to continue offering economic assistance to these businesses through the tax exemption of CERTS Grants.
NSTA Bus-In Boosts Momentum for CERTS Tax Exemption Act Advocacy
The reintroduction of the CERTS Tax Exemption Act closely follows the 2023 NSTA Capitol Hill Bus-in, during which NSTA Members advocated for the tax exemption of CERTS funds. Over April 26-27, 2023, NSTA members engaged with 80 Members of Congress and their staff to further their cause.
"NSTA greatly appreciates the efforts of Representatives LaHood, Panetta, Rose, Kelly, Golden, and Blumenauer in their steadfast support of private student transportation providers," said Carina Noble, NSTA president and senior vice president for communications and external Affairs for National Express in Lisle, Ill. "Their leadership is critical as private operators continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic."
Added Curt Macysyn, NSTA executive director: "Representatives LaHood and Panetta have consistently championed the CERTS Act since its inception two years ago, and they continue to advocate for transportation providers by reintroducing this proposal. Private school bus operators are grateful for their support, and we look forward to a positive outcome."