Senate budget plan could include $15M for buses

By SEANNA ADCOXAssociated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Senate's 2013-14 budget could buy $15 million worth of new school buses for South Carolina's aging fleet.

Senators considered Monday an amendment that would distribute nearly $7 million extra that lottery sales are expected to bring in next fiscal year. The proposal puts $2.75 million of the higher-than-initially-expected profits toward school buses.

The Senate postponed voting on the lottery amendment. The budget debate continues Tuesday.

A spokesman for Superintendent Mick Zais says the proposed $15 million tally is encouraging but still falls far short of what's needed.

Two-thirds of South Carolina's school bus fleet is at least 15 years old.

In 2007, legislators approved replacing the statewide fleet every 15 years, but the law was ignored during the economic downturn.

Meeting the replacement recommendation would require $34 million.

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