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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 13, 2024


In a series of item vetoes cast before he left the territory on July 7 for a mainland governors' convention, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull canceled legislation that was intended to prevent the Education Department from imposing school bus fees.
Offered by Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen last month as an amendment to an unrelated bill, the measure would require Education to determine how much money it needed to provide free school busing and to seek federal funding as well as an appropriation from the Legislature. The amendment was approved unanimously by the 10 members present at a June 21 meeting of the full Senate.
A two-thirds majority, or 10 votes, is required for the Senate to override any veto by the governor.
Hansen has been vehement in her efforts to head off Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds' plan to begin imposing school bus fees in the fall. She also has challenged the legality of the decision in Territorial Court; no trial date has been set.
In a letter to senate president Vargrave Richards dated June 30 but publicly announced on Thursday afternoon, Turnbull said of this veto: "The cost of upkeep and operation of the buses must be shared by those who seek to utilize the service. The minimal payment being put forth will not cover all the expenses, but at least it will assist in covering some of the operation costs."
The governor said the V.I. government cannot afford to provide free bus service, and the legislation would prevent the Education Department from charging fees for any services, including school busing.
Government House confirmed that Turnbull did not veto the part of the amendment requiring Education to determine how much money it would need for free school bus service and to seek federal funding and request appropriations from the Legislature. Hansen was reported to be in a meeting Friday morning and not available for comment.

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