FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Jan. 17, 2018
PHOENIX – When Governor Ducey unveiled his budget late last week, he did not include a plan for Arizona's $59 million settlement from car giant Volkswagen in the wake of its "clean diesel" vehicle scandal.
Along with organizations like Chispa Arizona, Rep. Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma (District 4), has been the most vocal and persistent voice at the Legislature calling for the settlement money to reduce emissions by replacing or retrofitting school bus fleets. To hold the Governor accountable, Fernandez this week re-introduced her legislation to mandate the Volkswagen settlement be used to buy or repower clean-energy school buses to replace aging fleets for cash-strapped neighborhood public schools.
"Our schools are desperate for Capital funding and our kids deserve clean air," Fernandez said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to turn a corporation's regrettable decision to cheat federal emissions tests into a win-win situation for all involved. The Governor has been silent on this money, it's not reflected in his budget, and it's time to let the public know that it's going to a productive use."
Fernandez' bill will require funding from the Volkswagen Emissions Settlement to be used to purchase or repower school buses in the K-12 education system. Fernandez has strongly supported Chispa's Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign calling on Ducey and lawmakers to put the health of Arizona’s youth and communities first and use the settlement for clean energy, zero-emission school buses. Questioned by lawmakers during budget briefings this week, a Ducey staff member confirmed that their budget does not currently include the settlement money and gave no indication on what the governor plans to do.