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Alabama House passes $11B education budget package

The education budget now moves to the Senate for full approval.

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The Alabama House of Representatives passed a budget package totaling $11 billion Tuesday that funds raises for teachers, principals and assistant principals and the proposed School of Healthcare Sciences in Demopolis.

The starting pay for new teachers gets a significant raise under the budget to $47,600, the highest rate of states in the region. Gov. Kay Ivey made it part of her priority to raise the starting pay to address the state’s teacher shortage. The raise is projected to cost the state $104 million.

Teachers would also be getting a 2 percent raise across the board, something Ivey has pushed throughout her tenure. Teachers have already seen a cumulative 15 percent pay increase since Ivey took office.

The budget sets aside $11 million to fund an additional 200 principals and assistant principals throughout the state. Currently, a school must have 500 students to access state aid to hire principals—the bill passed by the House would lower that to 300 students.

Lawmakers increased the proposed release of funds from the Advancement and Technology fund—Ivey proposed $700 million, lawmakers approved Tuesday to allocate $1 billion from the fund. Of that money, $726.3 million would go to K-12 education and the remaining $273.3 million would go to higher education.

A supplemental appropriation of $651 million included $20 million toward funding the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences in Demopolis.

“Though you may still have some doubts about the ability of this community, let me assure you, we will be very successful with what we will be doing over in Demopolis for the state of Alabama,”said Rep. A.J. McCampbell, D-Gallion, on the floor. “We are going to be that shining star on top of the hill.”

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Other highlights of the supplemental bill include:

  • $20 million for new statehouse construction
  • $50 million to fund Education Savings Accounts under the new CHOOSE Act
  • $40 million for a community college grant program

The Legislature shot down a proposed amendment by Rep. Laura Hall, D-Birmingham, to appropriate $13 million toward a summer feeding program mostly along party lines.

Garrett said he doesn’t believe there is resistance to the idea of opting in to the program, which would receive federal funding, but said the state would be required to implement the administration of the program and more discussion is needed. The appropriation would not have applied to this immediate upcoming summer, but summer of 2025.

The education budget now moves to the Senate for full approval.

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

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