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New ETF budget would cut APLS funding 18 percent, condition state aid to local libraries

The agency’s cut stands in stark contrast to the rest of the proposed budget, which saw growth for most.

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Last week, House Education Chair Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, announced in committee that $750,000 would be redirected from the Alabama Public Library Service.

The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved a substitute budget Tuesday that makes that budget reduction—a roughly 18 percent cut to the APLS operating budget. APR previously reported in error that this represented a 5 percent cut based on a misreading of the budget numbers.

But the new budget goes even further than Garrett had mentioned, making state aid to libraries contingent on adherence to code change proposed by Gov. Kay Ivey despite those changes still being discussed in a public comment period.

The agency’s cut stands in stark contrast to the rest of the proposed budget, which saw growth for most agencies and departments aligned with the overall increase in the budget.

John Wahl, APLS board member and ALGOP chair, had announced at a recent board meeting that Garrett had concerns about the recent controversy over library books, and that he was considering cutting APLS funding for failure to respond.

“As a member of the APLS board and someone who cares deeply about our library systems, I strongly support the full funding of the APLS budget,” Wahl told APR Thursday. “There has been a lot of controversy surrounding some local libraries this year, as well as concerns about social agendas being pushed by the American Library Association. I share many of those concerns, and I believe it is extremely important that the APLS board and our local libraries make sure we protect children from inappropriate sexual content.

“That being said, I believe we can address these issues best by having a strong and fully funded APLS program.”

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APLS Director Nancy Pack told APR Friday that she was disappointed by the proposed cut to the operating budget but was thankful that state aid appeared to be unaffected. That was before the substitute dropped showing state aid would be contingent on Ivey’s proposed changes, but the funding amount does remain the same for state aid.

Ivey’s proposed changes are just 20 days away from finishing out a public comment period with a public hearing set for April 30.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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