Arizona says it plans to use $38 million from a settlement with Volkswagen to buy more than 280 new school buses for low-income communities across the state
Gov. Doug Ducey says in a news release that the settlement funds stem from the state's share of a multibillion-dollar settlement between the federal government and the car company in 2016 over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
The governor's office says funding will be allocated to school districts who have 60 percent or more of their students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The districts will 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 buses will go to school districts in counties that are at risk of violating federal air quality standards.
“K-12 education remains our top priority,” says 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.”
The U.S. Justice Department sued Volkswagen in 2016 for violating the Clean Air Act by modifying its vehicles to cheat on mandated emissions tests. To settle the litigation, Volkswagen agreed to spend $10 billion to buy back vehicles or compensate vehicle owners and $4.7 billion to offset pollution from the modified cars.
Arizona's share of the settlement is $57 million over the next two years. The state also plans to allocate settlement funds to supporting wildland fire crews and equipment for the Arizona Department of Transportation.