To: NYS Legislature and Governor Paterson
From: New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA)
Date: March 10, 2009
Re: The need for a Sales Tax Credit for the purchase of clean-fuel school buses --
(A.3649/Gantt same as S.1921/Morahan/Diaz)
The New York School Bus Contractors Association represents over 200 hundred bus
companies operating over 22,000 school vehicles in over 300 school districts across the state.
NY school bus contractors transport over 2 million children a day. The industry employs
over twenty thousand people statewide providing safe working environments, highly
competitive wages and benefits. The private school bus contractors help school districts
control property taxes by saving school districts millions of dollars each year. The Association
also represents New York State bus retailers and manufacturers.
Sales Tax Credit Legislation:
There is an immediate need for a sales tax credit for school bus contractors/operators for
the purchase of clean-fuel school buses and other related purchases/services to help the
industry deal with uncontrollable and unpredictable costs. The current legislation has been
drafted so as to have no impact on the current fiscal year, no impact on 2009-2010, and it
is phased-in for subsequent years. Last year, the legislation unanimously passed the Senate
and was reported out of Ways and Means to the Rules Committee in the Assembly.
Why is this legislation necessary?
1. This legislation will create an incentive for school bus contractors across the state to
purchase new energy efficient buses. It will expedite the purchase of clean fuel buses
instead of prolonging the use of the current less energy efficient fleets.
2. Create equity within the bus transportation industry: Other non-school bus service
companies, such as private coach buses (also known as Omni Buses under NYS Tax
Law) currently pay no sales tax.
3. This legislation will help control school property taxes through the competitive bid
process. Without this legislation, the increased sales tax costs associated with the new
federal standards will be passed along to school districts and property tax payers.
4. Under the current law, school districts that choose to contract their bus services (over
300 statewide) are unfairly penalized by paying sales and compensating use taxes,
which they pass on to local property tax payers, and if Governor Paterson’s budget
proposal is adopted without removing harmful tax and fee increases they will be
penalized even more.
5. A sales tax credit will help defray some of the costs imposed by new federal clean bus
standards that took effect in 2007. These standards are having a positive effect on the
environment, but they are also having a significant financial impact on the school bus
contractor industry and local school districts. Financial impact of new federal
o New clean diesel school buses cost between 20 and 40 percent more than
conventional buses due to new federal emissions standards.
o New ultra low sulfur fuel for these buses cost is between 10 and 20
percent more than conventional fuel.
o Maintenance costs are expected to increase by as much as 25 percent
with the requirement of new clean-bus technology.
Benefits of contracted school bus services:
Provide safe, reliable, and cost efficient transportation for over 300 school districts in
New York State – transporting over 2 million children a day.
Provide industry safety standards and training for school districts.
Private school bus operators save school districts and property tax payers millions of
dollars each year by providing highly efficient school transportation services.
On average, school transportation services provided by NYSBCA members cost tax
payers nearly 20 percent less than public school transportation services.
Provide good-paying jobs with benefits to over twenty thousand New Yorkers.
The current legislation’s annual fiscal impact to New York State is estimated to be in the area
of $0.00 for 2008—2009 and $0.00 for 2009-2010. 2010-2011 the impact would be $1.2
million, 2011-2012 it would be $4.6 million. There is a similar impact to localities.
(According to Deputy Commissioner Robert D. Plattner, NYS Department of Taxation and
Finance – Fiscal note dated June 18, 2008.) Also note that the bill memo for 2009 is incorrect
and needs to be amended accordingly.
There is some debate over these numbers given the industry has dramatically scaled back the
number of bus purchases over the last two years. In reality, the state is not receiving the same
sales tax revenue it received say three or four years ago, because the industry has significantly
reduced the number of new buses it has purchased due to the increased cost of new clean-fuel
Further, it is important to note that although the school bus contractors initially pay the sales
tax -- it is actually paid by the school districts/property tax payers when the school district
and bus contractor exercise their contractual agreements.
The proliferation of mass transit clean-fuel school buses will help reduce the industry’s
carbon footprint and improve the air.
Reduce the negative health effects of diesel exhaust – see NRDC’s website:
Greater use of alternative energy sources reduces the industry’s dependence on fossil