Budget conference: House agrees to scrap $2M earmark for electric vehicle repair training
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Up to 35% of cars in Florida will be electric by 2040, state transportation experts say. This would have helped train techs here to work on them.

A requested set-aside in Florida’s next budget that would have funded electric vehicle (EV) repair training in underserved communities across Florida is out of juice for now.

After receiving no matching offer from the Senate, House members of a joint conference committee on transportation, tourism and economic development nixed the $2 million earmark by St. Cloud Republican Rep. Fred Hawkins.

The money, had it been cleared, would have been the first funding infusion of an estimated three-year effort costing upwards of $10 million to create the new program, which would include online, theoretical lessons and in-person, on-the-job training.

About $120,000 of the money requested this year would go toward the rental of three facilities for live training in North, Central and South Florida.

Graduates of the program, of which the nonprofit Central Florida Auto Dealers Association (CFADA) would help lead development, would be certified as EV technicians and receive credentials from the Auto Service Excellence organization.

“Our vision is to provide underemployed, underserved, and underrepresented communities opportunities for gainful careers in electric vehicle repair by developing, piloting, and launching a training ecosystem,” Evelyn Cardenas of CDFADA wrote in the request.

Of the proposed program’s $2,105,000 in first-year funding — CFADA planned to contribute $105,000 — roughly a quarter would have covered EV curriculum development, including programming and implementing the digital platform and designing the certification process.

Other expenses included $300,000 for equipment and tools at the three facilities, $225,000 for 100 workforce placement scholarships and $200,000 for workforce development grants for on-the-job training.

An executive director of the program would have gotten $75,000 yearly, while another $350,000 would have paid the salaries and benefits of two full-time recruiters and job-placement mentors and three full-time automotive tech instructors.

In the 15 months leading to January, Florida saw an 87% increase in EV registrations, placing it behind only California nationally in battery-powered automobiles owned.

Trey Tillander, executive director of transportation technologies for the Florida Department of Transportation told lawmakers the agency expects EVs to account for between 10% and 35% of all vehicles owned in the state by 2040.

Last year, one out of every 10 cars sold globally was battery-powered. While Americans aren’t yet buying EVs at that rate, experts say the smart move is to build capacity and an adequate service market before it’s needed.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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