By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) sponsored a two-percent Alabama Teachers pay raise for the 2015 Fiscal Year Budget. This was the same as Governor Robert Bentley had requested. However, the Senate Education Budget Committee instead approved a one percent/one-time bonus for teachers.
“So goes education, so goes Alabama,” Ward said. “We need to make sure our teachers are well compensated, and appreciated. Though they received a two-percent raise last year, we are still $9,000 below the National average, and rank 39th among states in terms of teacher compensation.”
Senator Trip Pitman (R-Daphne) said that the reason educators would not received the two-percent pay increase proposed by Ward and the Governor was because “the economy has remained stagnant and has not rebounded.”
But, Republican lawmakers, who would not speak on the record because of concerns of retaliation, tell a different story.
These lawmakers agree that the biggest barrier to giving teachers a pay increase is not the economy, but three men: former Gov. Bob Riley, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and Billy Canary, the head of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). Because he takes his marching orders from the three other men, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) should be included in this group.
Canary has said privately on several occasions that he wanted to destroy the Alabama Education Association (AEA). This has been a goal of many in the Republican Party for years. Bradley Byrne, who was Bob Riley’s handpicked successors, ran his gubernatorial campaign almost solely on dismantling the education organization. He was defeated by the AEA and the race was cleared for the rise of Robert Bentley.
There are basically three reasons why some in the ALGOP and the BCA want to ruin the AEA, and it has little to do with ideology. The reason is a simple political calculation. In the past, the AEA financed mostly Democrat candidates for public office. Because of the steady flow of contributions from it members, it was one of the largest power blocks for electing lawmakers.
Canary, an acolyte of Karl Rove, wanted to be the central power broker in the State and the AEA was his nemesis. For Hubbard, the same was true: defeat the AEA and control to State.
For Riley, who took hundreds of thousands from the AEA, the choice was much simpler. Riley wants money and privatizing education is a quick and easy way to make millions of dollars.
Over the last three years, Republican representatives and Senators have complained that they have become pawns of the BCA. Some have come to the point of saying privately that the BCA is even worse than the AEA.
From the “Gun Rights Bill” to the fight against “Common Core,” it has been the BCA who has stood in the way of a Conservative agenda. And it is not just the millions in corporate giveaways, or the recent so-called Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights that has troubled conservatives. It is the steady building of a Big Government Republican apparatus controlled by Big Business.
Riley, Hubbard, Canary and Marsh are not small government Republicans, they are big government corporatists. They believe in government control and the privatization of the arms of government that can make them and their cronies wealthy. The resistance to give educators a raise is because they want to eliminate public education and privatize it for profit. The only road block to their dreams of total business control of government are the teachers and support personal who have united under the AEA.
Canary has been the prime mover behind insuring the implementation of Common Core Standards. Hubbard and Marsh do his bidding.
Riley, with the support of the other three, has pushed for privatizing education so he and his business partners can make big money. Is it surprising that both of Riley’s chiefs of staff are lobbyists for the big corporate education brokers? Or that Hubbard and Marsh have become chummy with the biggest names in education privatization?
Of course, this scheme may soon unravel, as the Special Grand Jury in Lee County is heavily invested in finding all the criminal machinations of Hubbard and his fellow travelers.
Carney, Riley and Marsh are names that have surely become familiar to those gathered at the Lee County Courthouse.
What their future holds is uncertain, but, what is sure is that these men are the biggest problem facing the State, not teachers and until they are vanquished from power, Alabama will rank near the bottom in everything except public corruption.
So, when you hear that teachers are getting a one-percent bonus instead of a two-percent raise, remember: it is not about lack of funds…it is about power and who gets the spoils.