New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Thursday signed a bill that will ring-fence $45 million annually for a period of 3 years to fund the Electric School Bus Program.
The funding will go towards replacing regular buses with electric ones, in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As reported by NJ-101.5, the bill will be overseen by The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). According to the DEP, approximately 50% of the funding will be directed toward urban and low-income areas.
The assembly passed the bill in the House back in May by 47-31. It was then sent to the Senate which passed it in June by 23-15 with two Senators abstaining.
“Grants shall be awarded in a manner that both prioritizes equity and tests a variety of technological and funding approaches, including but not limited to outright purchase, leased buses, leveraging of other funding sources, and vehicle-to-grid or vehicle-to-building technologies,” the bill states.
The bill details how its effectiveness will be monitored, stating that there will be a description and comprehensive review of the program, including but not limited to, an evaluation of the program’s effectiveness.” Such measures include:
- “A summary description of all grants provided under the program, including the names of the recipients, the amount of funding each recipient received, the current status of the funds provided to each recipient, and an itemization of the total project budget including vehicle costs, hardware costs, installation costs, training costs, and administrative costs.”
- “An analysis of the operational reliability and cost effectiveness of the use of electric school buses and charging infrastructure by each grantee and steps taken by the grantee to fix any operational problems.”
- “An estimate of the emission benefits of the electric school buses and charging infrastructure funded under this program.”
A myriad of Republican lawmakers have accused the bill of being too expensive and an unnecessary distraction from their post-pandemic education and mental health. This point was argued by Freshman Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn (R-Monmouth).
“I thought by the fourth month of being here with you that we would have had bill after bill after bill making sure that we’re funding the learning loss, the mental health needs of our students,” Flynn said. “And today I’m looking at a bill to fund over $15 million for electric buses.”
Flynn said she expected a “hostile amendment” when she proposed her issues. She concluded: “I will be heard on this bill.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NJ.COM
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