AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill to allow school bus drivers to collect unemployment benefits during the summer months is making its way through the legislature.
Sen. Erin Herbig (D-Belfast) proposed the bill after Kermit Nicholson Elementary School was forced to close in January.
The reason for the closing? Lack of bus drivers -- and bus companies say the struggle to hire isn't going away.
"We get mechanics to drive. We get office personnel to drive. I don't know the reason, other than people just don't seem to have to work. And our business is part-time," Joe Cyr of Cyr Bus said.
Getting a bus driver's license is also harder than it used to be. Cyr said he remembers when he had 16-year-old high school students driving the bus to school.
Now, drivers have to be 21-years-old and have a perfect record.
"We have a drug issue -- that people who have had drugs, had issues can't drive anymore," Cyr said.
To try to make the job more attractive, Herbig's bill "allows public school bus drivers to collect unemployment over the summer," Lisa Haberzettl, Deputy Communications Director for the Maine Senate Majority Office, said.
While some bus drivers support this bill, Cyr doesn't think it will help.
He says he offers his employees bonuses and pays more than the minimum wage, but even that isn't enough.
The work session on this bill will be early next week.