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Senator Bedford pushes for teacher pay raise on National Teacher Appreciation Day

Beth Clayton

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By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY–Senator Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) proposed an amendment to the Education Trust Fund budget to give teachers a five percent pay raise. The amendment was tabled with a vote of 20-12.

Bedford’s amendment increased the pay raise for all K-12 employees from two percent to five percent. The amendment also provided a five percent raise for postsecondary employees.

The last pay raise for K-12 and postsecondary educators was in October, 2007.

Additionally, Bedford’s amendment provided a five percent cost of living adjustment for retired education employees. The last cost of living adjustment was in October, 2006.

Since the last teacher pay raise in 2007, employees’ pay has been cut by 2.5 percent. The proposed bill with a two percent raise would not bring teachers back to their pay level from 2007.

Senator Quentin Ross (D-Montgomery) said he supported debate on Bedford’s amendment because “we have some things that are in the budget that we really don’t need.”

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Ross said that teacher pay raises were always on the table for this session, with some legislators discussing everything from a two percent to a ten percent pay increase for teachers.

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“I think five percent would have been a happy medium, and we could have gotten there,” Ross said.

A pay increase for teachers “is long overdue,” said Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), the only Republican to vote against tabling Bedford’s amendment.

“I think the money is in the budget to afford it,” Ward said.

Senator Trip Pittman (R-Daphne) had different thoughts. “We needed to be able to make sure that we could afford and sustain a pay raise,” Pittman said. ”

Pittman said that he still has concerns about the two percent pay increase, and he wants to make sure there’s “overflow to pay back the ATF” [Alabama Trust Fund].

“The teachers, administrators and support people across the state are doing great work with our children. We wish we could do more,” Pittman said.

The amendment never came to a vote or debate on the Senate floor. The following roll call vote was to table the amendment:
“Yay” votes included Senators Scott Beason (R-Gardendale), Slade Blackwell (R-Mountain Brook), Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery), Paul Bussman (R-Cullman), Gerald Dial (R-Lineville), Jerry Fielding (R-Sylacauga), Bill Hightower (R-Mobile), Jimmy Holley (R-Elba), Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison), Del Marsh (R-Anniston), Shadrack McGill (R-Scottsboro), Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), Trip Pittman (R-Daphne), Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville), Clay Scofield (R-Arab), Harri Anne Smith (R-Slocomb), Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville), Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia), Tom Whatley (R-Auburn), Phil Williams (R-Gadsden).

“Nay” votes included Senators Billy Beasley (D-Clayton), Roger Bedford (D-Russellville), Linda Coleman (D-Birmingham), Priscilla Dunn (D-Bessemer), Vivian Figures (D-Mobile), Tammy Irons (D-Florence), Marc Keahey (D-Grove Hill), Quentin Ross (D-Montgomery), Hank Sanders (D-Selma), Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) and Cam Ward (R-Alabaster).

Senator Rusty Glover (R-Semmes) abstained, and Senators Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) and Greg Reed (R-Jasper) were not in the chamber to vote.

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