By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, the Ways and Means Education Committee of the Alabama House of Representatives held a public hearing to introduce the 2013/2014 Education Budget. Chairman Jay Love (R) from Prattville introduced the House Republican budget, House Bill 166. The Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn praised the budget with comments on Facebook.
Speaker Hubbard said on Facebook, “The Education Trust Fund Budget announced today delivers on our promise to operate within our means and continues to place Alabama’s education system on a path to innovation and success. I’m especially proud that we are able to increase the amount a teacher brings home each month not only by raising their salaries but also by providing them with state-funded liability insurance, meaning they will no longer have to use their own money to purchase that type of protection.
Representative Hubbard said, “Teachers are the lifeblood of our state and deserve these pay increases for their unwavering devotion to Alabama’s future. Thanks to Republicans’ common sense budgeting practices, these increases are possible even in these toughest of economic times.”
The Republican budget makes payments on the money borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund, fully funds the rainy day fund, increases funding for pre-K in Alabama, gives small increases to all Alabama universities, funds liability insurance for Alabama teachers, restores funding for the state fire college to 2011 levels, and raises pay for teachers and education support personnel across the state by 2%.
Chairman Love said that his budget estimates that the Alabama Accountability Act will cost the Education Trust Fund $70 million. “When you issue tax credits revenue comes down.” Love said that the $70 million is just an estimate and could be considerably less than $70 million.
Alabama Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said that he needs to review the plan before speaking either for or against the proposed budget.
The Alabama House Republican Caucus wrote, “For decades Alabama had never ranked higher than 48th or 49th among other states in education. Today, Alabama ranks 25th nationally in overall education quality. That’s a remarkable improvement, and it didn’t happen all by itself. We were able to do it by prioritizing programs that get results, including the Alabama Reading Initiative, the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative, ACCESS Distance Learning and First Class Pre-K. These programs are making a real difference by offering children educational opportunities our state has never been able to offer before.”
Alabama Education Association Secretary Henry Mabry said that all the teachers and support personnel should get at least a 5% increase because the teachers and support personnel have not had a pay increase since the recession began and they took an effective 2.5% cut beginning in 2012 as they have to contribute more toward their retirements.