UniteGPS – Today the Louisiana Senate Finance committee will deliberate a bill that could potentially increase pay rates for school bus drivers in the Bayou State.

Louisiana Senate review bill

Drafted by Louisiana Senator Patrick McMath, the passing of Senate Bill 57 would boost the compensation rate for miles driven according to the number of passengers. So, bus drivers transporting 48 passengers or less would earn $1.47 per mile while those with over 48 passengers would make $1.76 per mile. 

In a state where school bus drivers work under a contentious “owner-operator model,” higher pay will ultimately mean better vehicle upkeep and safer transportation conditions for children, according to the Louisiana Radio Network.

READ MORE: Louisiana transit leaders hesitant about lowering bus driver age to 18

“They own their own school buses, they’re responsible for bringing our kids to and from school in a safe manner, and we need to make sure they have the best equipment to be able to do that,” said Senator McMath.

In addition to recognizing how pay rates have remained the same ever since the 1980s, Senator McMath also understands why Louisiana sickouts have been becoming more prominent nowadays.

“It is very apparent and the sickouts that have taken place across the state, these guys are frustrated they just can’t afford to do this work anymore without this help,” added McMath. He himself has four children who depend on riding the school bus every day, so for him, there’s no question about the need for improved working wages. 

“It’s not a question of if we can’t afford it, we must be able to afford it because, without school bus operators, we’re in a pickle.”