Alabama lawmakers considering $8.1B education budget

The Alabama Education Association has announced sweeping changes regarding COVID-19 after...
The Alabama Education Association has announced sweeping changes regarding COVID-19 after meeting with Birmingham City School Superintendent, Dr. Mark Sullivan. The AEA drafted a letter on behalf of Birmingham City employees to Dr. Sullivan on January 31st asking him to consider 10 recommendations concerning COVID.(WBRC)
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 7:29 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - When it comes to education, lawmakers are now looking at the $8.1 billion budget. On Tuesday morning, a House committee discussed allocations to the state’s education trust fund.

This is another large budget for the state, and the $8.1 billion is actually $125 million less than Gov. Kay Ivey’s recommended budget. However, it didn’t prevent multiple increases to areas where these funds are allocated.

“I can certainly attest that you make your worst decisions when times are good and when you have a lot of money,” said Rep. Danny Garrett, chairman of House Ways and Means Education Committee.

Part of the influx of funds to this budget is due to pandemic relief money, but with this in mind, Garrett says a lot of this budget requires a lot of thought.

“Make decisions that are thoughtful and carefully considered, rational, prudent, responsible, in the best interest of the state as a whole, and without regard to political agendas,” said Garrett.

The decisions on the budget include some pay increases for educators, but a large amount of the money will be seen in the classroom.

“With the funding increase that is in the budget now, we will be able to serve 35 more classrooms that will raise quality in the kindergarten through third grade years. These classrooms actually continue to build upon the foundation that has been laid in pre-K for our children,” said Barara Cooper, secretary of the Department of Early Childhood Education.

“Increasing the materials, supplies there, fully funding reading coaches, making sure every district has tech coordinators. I mean technology is changing the whole education process. Fully funding those tech coordinators, fully funding the reading coaching program,” said Garrett.

Some of the money has been allocated to legislation that hasn’t completely passed, like the free period products for the school bathroom bill, that just received a passing vote on the House floor.

None of the bills that had to do with the budget were voted on Tuesday. The committee plans to return Wednesday in order to do so.

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