By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Sunday, state Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, issued a letter complaining about what he felt are excessive budget cuts to Montgomery’s Alabama State University.
“Alabama State University has come too far to allow the chairman of the Senate Education Committee to destroy our university. He has proposed ten times more cuts to Alabama State University than all the other universities in the state of Alabama combined,” Rep. Knight wrote.
“We have never asked for special treatment, but we absolutely demand fair treatment,” Knight said. “I urge reasonable minds on the Republican side of the aisle to prevail.”
“For me this is personal,” Rep. Knight said.“They will pass this budget in the House when they pry my cold, dead hands off of the microphone, as I will fight this injustice until the bitter end.”
Alabama State University is a historically Black university serving the Montgomery area. Knight was formerly the Alabama State University executive vice president and chief operating officer.
The 2018 Legislative Session begins on January 9. That is just 50 days away, and the legislative committees are already preparing preliminary budgets for fiscal year 2019. Early reports are that the ETF should have record funds. The long struggling state general fund budget is expected to be a problem, due to the neglected state of the prisons and possible federal budget cuts to the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The Alabama Political Reporter has not seen this version of the state education budget, so we do not know yet exactly what cuts have been made to ASU in the current education budget that have so upset Rep. Knight. APR is investigating and will have more information in coming weeks.
State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, is the chairman of the Finance and Taxation Education. He is also the chair of the joint Fiscal Committee.
Education budgets have soared since the economy has emerged from the recession. The 2018 Fiscal Year budget, which went into effect on October 1, is the largest in the history of the state; but more and more resources have gone to K-12, where the state is widely viewed as one of the worst public school systems in the country. Higher Education has not received greater resources in several years. The colleges and universities have responded to the declining state appropriations, as a percentage of their funding, by raising tuition and fees prices on the students.
Rep. Knight has served in the Legislature since 1993. He is 73.
State Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, has recently vacated his seat to accept a position as the president of ASU. Rep. Knight is running for Ross’s vacant Senate District 26 seat.