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Lawmakers pass $9.3 billion education budget

The budget includes a pay raise for teachers as well as an increased starting salary to make the state more competitive in recruiting educators.

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Despite being used as a bargaining chip for last-minute politics, there actually wasn’t too much disagreement between the two chambers of the Alabama Legislature on the Education Trust Fund budget.

The Legislature officially passed the ETF package Thursday with only minor tweaks and changes—the biggest argument appeared to be the removal by the House of $5 million to fund an increase to the cost of living adjustment for education retirees. 

“From fully funding critical programs like the Literacy and Numeracy Acts to supporting the Turnaround Schools program to increasing our investment in special education to prioritizing workforce development needs like career coaches and dual enrollment, this budget wisely invests in the spectrum of education,” said Gov. Kay Ivey in a statement Thursday. “I am proud we are jumpstarting priority projects like the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences. We are giving more Alabama families the ability to choose the school that best suits their child’s needs through my education savings account program. We are ensuring students are protected by investing in their mental health care and in the safety of our schools”

The budget does provide a 2 percent raise for education employees across the board and makes the starting pay for teachers more than $46,000, the highest starting salary in the region. 

Almost every agency funded through the ETF also saw an increase in their budgets, except for the Alabama Public Library Service, which ultimately saw a $351,000 cut from last year and $400,000 less than what Ivey recommended in her initial budget.

House Education Budget Chair Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, had initially redirected $750,000 away from the agency, but the Senate added back $350,000 in funding for APLS.

The budget still contains language requiring local libraries to abide by Ivey’s proposed administrative code changes, despite those code changes not yet being decided on by the APLS board. The board is set to vote on the code changes on May 16. 

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

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