Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign Senate Bill 193 approved last week to fund electric school buses.
The $65 million for electric school buses is a major part of a $110 million bill designed to improve air quality across the state. In addition to funding zero-emissions school buses, the legislation also includes $25 million to clean up industrial and manufacturing operations, $15 million for the diesel truck emission reduction program, $12 million for electric bicycles, and $7 million for aerial surveys of methane gas emissions.
Polis originally requested $150 million for electric school buses in his budget proposal released in March, but the legislature reduced the amount. Ean Thomas Tafoya, the Colorado state director for the nonprofit environmental health advocate GreenLatinos, said one reason for a reduction in Polis’ request was because of the five-year, $5 billion federal Clean School Bus Program. The application window for the year-one rebate is expected to open Friday and run through August.
SB 193 creates the emission reduction programs to be administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Tafoya added the agency still must determine whether the funds purchase the electric buses outright for communities or will offset upfront costs.
A fiscal note describes the program as allowing school districts and charter schools to finance the conversion to electric school buses. Tafoya added that priority for funding will go toward low-income neighborhoods around the state with a history of environmental racism and a census roll consisting of at least 40 percent people of color.
Polis signed the Environmental Justice Act into law last summer to prioritize reducing environmental health disparities in disproportionately impacted communities.
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