Monday, the Alabama Senate passed the Investing in Alabama’s Future Act, Senate Bill 242, authorizing the Alabama Public School and College Authority to sell and issue $1,250,000,000 in bonds for capital improvements for the support of public education.
The Act provides funds for capital improvements for the public schools, the Alabama Community College System, and public institutions of higher education.
SB242 is sponsored by Senate Finance and Tax Education Committee Chairman Arthur Orr (R-Decatur)/
Orr said that the construction would serve as a stimulus to help the economy recover.
Sen. Bobby Singleton (R-Greensboro) expressed concerns with how the money would be allocated. Singleton said that more should be done to help failing schools to raise Alabama as a state out of its place as 52nd in education.
Singleton admitted that it would help schools in his district; but that it would help schools such as Mountain Brook that already had new schools and more tax base, while poor systems, such as Sumter County have 40-year-old school buildings they are struggling to maintain and repair. Singleton said that the bill did not do anything to address the widening gap between rich and poor in the state.
The Senate voted 29 to 0 for passage of the legislation. SB242 now goes to the Alabama House of Representatives for their consideration.
Both houses of the Alabama legislature had previously met only once since it broke for their spring break on March 12. Due to concerns about the coronavirus crisis, the public and lobbyists were both barred from the State House on Monday. Every member of the House of Representatives was wearing masks and assigned seats were rearranged so that there would be at least six feet between members. Gone were the pages and interns.
The Alabama legislature will meet for the rest of this week to pass the state education and general fund budgets as well as to address the coronavirus crisis issue as well as members’ local bills.
The Alabama economy has been under various states of lockdown since March 12. The state has over 8,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and already 298 deaths from the global pandemic.