Pair of bills would bring transit funds to schools and students
Monday, February 26, 2018
The Legislature expects to pass two bills this week that would make a significant investment in student transportation.
OSBA has worked for two years with Rep. Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) and others to create the measures.
House Bill 4130 is the more straightforward of the two bills. It would allocate $250,000 to a grant program for schools to fund student transportation services during off-school hours.
These kinds of services, for commonly called “activity bus” events, cover transportation to events such as extracurricular activities, sports or other school-related activities that occur outside the normal school day. The bill is in the Ways and Means Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee. A hearing has not been scheduled to move the bill, but OSBA expects one this week.
House Bill 4059 is more complicated and represents a substantial continuous investment in transportation. The bill is the follow-up to a huge transportation package, House Bill 2017 (2017), passed in 2017. HB 4059 is an omnibus bill for the committee this session, meaning that all members of the committee agree to the changes in the bill.
The transportation package is expected to raise more than $5 billion in new revenue over the next decade. Part of that $5 billion will be deposited, beginning in 2019, in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund. For 2019, the approximate value of the fund will be $100 million-$120 million, and it is expected to grow each year. The fund money is to be directed to transit districts for investment in programs to improve ridership and infrastructure.
One portion of HB 4059 would dedicate 1 percent of the fund every year for student transportation passes, such as for buses or light rail, for districts that do not have programs to do so. The bill would make this money available to grade 9-12 students and would require that student transportation be considered as one of the main criteria for any plan a transit entity proposes to use the funds.
Unlike HB 4130, this is a permanent allocation and will recur every year. HB 4059 is scheduled for a hearing today, Feb. 26, in the joint transportation subcommittee
McKeown worked with OSBA, COSA, transit districts and many other education and transportation stakeholders to create these bills. They represent a sound policy choice to invest in student transportation, and OSBA is happy to support McKeown in passage of both measures.