By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday night the Alabama House of Representatives approved a fiscal year 2014 Education budget that included a 2% across the board pay increase for Alabama Education employees. This pay increase is the first that Alabama education employees have received since fiscal year 2008, before the Great Recession struck destroying millions of jobs and slowing economic growth and tax collections along with it.
Alabama State Representative Dickie Drake (R) from Leeds said that this pay raise is just the first of a series of planned raises that education employees can expect in coming years according to the current tax collection projections. Rep. Drake said on Facebook Thursday,
“I wish we could have done more but due to the previous administration’s over spending which required us to borrow 437 million from the trust fund. This is all the budget will allow. If we didn’t have to borrow that money we could have given an 8-10% raise. Raises are planned for the next two years. The state will also be paying the teachers liability which will save them about $480 dollars a year in addition to the raise.”
The Alabama Education Association AEA had asked for a 5% raise. Since the 2011 legislature had increased the education employee’s retirement contributions due to recession related troubles at the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), most Alabama education employees actually take home 2.5% less take home pay than they did two years ago.
State Representative Richard Lindsey (D) from Centre introduced an amendment during the budget debate raising the pay increase to 5%, but legislators rejected that since it would have led to cuts in other items in the Alabama Education budget.
The AEA opposed adding the liability insurance benefit for teachers, because the union already provides a similar benefit to its members. Republican legislators maintain that Alabama’s public school teachers should not have to join any union to get protection from frivolous law suits.
Rep. Dickie Drake was elected in 2011 to fill the seat vacated by his brother Owen Drake’s death due to cancer. Drake served 42 year in the United States Armed Forces and is now the co-owner of Drake Lawn Maintenance, LLC.