TAMPA — Charlie Crist’s School Bus Tour may violate state law on use of school buses.
Crist just finished a three-day tour on education spending, travelling in a bright yellow school bus with campaign staff and reporters.
He hoped to emphasize education as an issue in the race with Gov. Rick Scott — an issue where he believes he has an advantage over Scott. The tour included small rallies and news conferences in seven cities where he bashed Scott for education cuts, arriving each time in the bus.
The apparent snag is Chapter 316.72 of the Florida Statutes, which says it’s illegal for anyone “except a governmental unit or agency operating as provided by law,” to drive a bus “of an orange or yellow color known as ‘school bus chrome’ ... for any purpose other than to transport persons to and from educational or recreational facilities or institutions,” or to activities sponsored by a school, church or charity.
Crist’s bus isn’t a public school vehicle, but comes from a company that supplies student buses and transport services.
A Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman said she couldn’t comment on whether Crist’s use of the bus was illegal without knowing more about it.
“Ultimately it would be the responsibility of the company they rented it from whether they’re using it in accordance with state statute,” said highway patrol Capt. Nancy Rasmussen. “It’s more of an attorney-type question.”
Crist campaign spokesman Brendan Gilfillan’s response: “We were very clear with the company that the bus would be used to educate Floridians about Rick Scott’s failed record, including his $1.3 billion in cuts in K-12 education funding. While it’s not against the law to cut education funding or Bright Futures Scholarships in half, Rick Scott should still apologize.”