PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey released a $38 million plan to purchase more than 280 new school buses in low-income communities across the state utilizing settlement funds from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust.
Dollars will be allocated to school districts with 60 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced price lunch and to the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind to replace school buses that are at least 15 years old and have more than 100,000 miles. Under the plan, an estimated 80 percent or more of the new school buses will go to school districts in counties at risk of violating federal air quality standards.
“K-12 education remains our top priority,” said Governor Ducey. “These dollars will go a long way towards making sure Arizona students are safely delivered to school everyday. Additionally, putting these dollars toward the purchase of new school buses will free up existing funding sources, allowing school districts to focus on other capital needs to benefit students.”
BACKGROUND ON THE SETTLEMENT: In January of 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against Volkswagen for violating the Clean Air Act by modifying its vehicles to cheat emissions tests. The suit resulted in a settlement agreement that requires Volkswagen to spend $10 billion to buy back vehicles or compensate vehicle owners and $4.7 billion to offset pollution from the modified cars.
Arizona will receive $57 million over the next two years. The plan also includes funding other mission critical projects such as supporting wildland fire crews and equipment for the Arizona Department of Transportation.
The governor’s plan is being submitted for review and approval by the trustee. If the plan is approved, funding will likely be available during the second quarter of fiscal year 2019.