Sen. Eddie Lucio, Democrat of Brownsville, is more than a little displeased with the Texas Education Agency, which has decided that a law Lucio wrote requiring new school buses to be equipped with seat belts cannot be implemented immediately and will not be backed by the full $10 million the legislature appropriated for it. The planned funding has been scaled back to less than $4 million by TEA in response to a directive from the governor and legislative leaders last spring to cut agency spending by 5 percent. TEA also says that legislative officials have yet to approve a required implementation plan.
At a capitol press conference on Tuesday, Sen. Lucio was not in the mood to hear any excuses. Lucio (as reported in the Dallas Morning News) said: “I will not let the TEA subvert this bill and the law of the state….I will not let any bureaucrat or bureaucracy stand in the way of making seat belts a reality on all school buses….TEA has clearly forgotten who they work for–the parents of Texas.”
The statutory requirement to outfit all new school buses with seat belts applies only to the extent that the state provides the money to pay for it. Though $10 million would not be enough to equip all new buses with seat belts, advocates of the requirement say that amount would pay for seat belts for 80,000 students.