With education a prime target for budget cuts, Kentucky state lawmakers are looking for new ways to fund schools. State Representatives Brad Montell, a Shelbyville Republican and Terry Mills, a Lebanon Democrat, have teamed up on a bill that would allow advertising on school buses. The bill was first introduced last session, but didn't make it out of the Senate.
In Tuesday's education committee meeting, Mills used a line from Governor Steve Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth to make his point on why the bill is needed.
“It says, we will be cutting," Mills told the committee. "And I wanted to highlight that and the revenue picture is bleak and I want to support education.”
The bill has been revised, making the program optional for school boards, not mandatory. The bill would also restrict advertising of alcohol and tobacco on school buses. Further, it would keep the front and back of school buses ad free.
But some lawmakers were upset at the chance that controversial ads for school children, like lottery or birth control ads, could end up on school buses. Mills said he trusts school boards to make the right decisions on ads.
And he told the House Education Committee today that making the bill law could be lucrative for school boards who opt into the program.
“In a school system like I come from, there’s about forty buses. Two hundred thousand dollars would go a long way," Mills said. "In a school system like Jefferson, where there’s 900 buses, four and a half million dollars would go a long way.”
That works out to about a five thousand dollar profit off advertising on each bus. Mills says schools in Colorado, where school bus ads are legal, can fetch as high as ten thousand dollars per bus.
Some legislators told Mills their school superintendents are against the bill. But other education groups remain neutral on the legislation.