Legislative Report 020918

Volume 19 Number 5 – February 9, 2018

9th & 10th legislative days

Education Budget Approved in Committee

On Wednesday, February 7, the House Ways and Means Education Committee approved a $6.63 billion education budget that provides pay raises for teachers and increased funding for pre-kindergarten and other education and operational programs. The budget now moves on to the floor of the House, where it will be debated on Tuesday.

If approved, the 2019 Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget will be the largest since 2007.

The rise in the budget is attributed to the current strength of the economy, which has boosted incomes and sales taxes, the majority contributors to the education budget. Most of the increase, $102.4 million, is going towards a 2.5 percent pay raise for education employees in the state’s K-12 schools and community colleges. The raises are based on varying education levels of the teachers.

The budget also provides an additional $20 million to the state’s pre-k program and an increase of $5 million to the Alabama Reading Initiative. Along with these increases, the budget proposal provides $4.2 million for new technology, $5.4 million for student materials, $3.9 million for transportation, $2.6 million for fleet maintenance, and $1.9 million for technology coordinators.

Under this budget proposal, funding for the state’s colleges will also increase. Four-year colleges would receive a 3.4 percent increase, resulting in an overall budget of $1.12 billion. Community colleges would be awarded an increase of 4.4 percent, which brings their total to $380.1 million.

While the proposal went through committee with very little debate, the Alabama Education Retirees Association has asked legislators to include a one-time bonus to retired education workers who have not received a pay raise in over a decade. To date, the proposal has not been amended to include that request.

Qualifying for Candidates Ends Today

Today at 5:00 p.m., qualifying for the 2018 elections will officially close. At least ten people have qualified to run for Governor, including incumbent Governor Kay Ivey (R), Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle (R), Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox (D), and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb (D). Governor Ivey is the perceived front runner at this point, but those mentioned could give her a run for her money.

Another interesting race to watch will be the Alabama Attorney General’s race. Current AG Steve Marshall (R) is running for reelection, but he will face stiff competition. Former AG Troy King and Alice Martin, former Deputy AG under Luther Strange qualified as Republicans. Joseph Siegleman, son of former Governor Don Siegleman, qualified as a Democrat. The business community has been supportive of AG Marshall, but Troy King’s name recognition could be tough to overcome.

For a full list of Republican candidates, click here. For a full list of Democratic candidates, click here.

Upcoming Legislative Schedule

The House of Representatives and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, at 2:00 p.m.