MONTGOMERY – The Alabama House on Tuesday passed the state’s proposed $5.9 billion Education Trust Fund Budget with a 51 to 47 vote.
Due to ObamaCare’s forced financial burdens, the budget provides significant funding to protect teachers and support staff from skyrocketing insurance premiums and also prioritizes funding for classrooms and local school districts to help ensure Alabama children are provided the best education possible.
House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) applauded Ways and Means Education Chairman Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) for making the tough decisions required to draft a conservative and fiscally responsible budget that invests in active and retired employees as well as local schools and children.
“Chairman Poole has shown tremendous leadership in putting forth a budget that has the greatest possible impact on Alabama students, educators, and support staff,” Hubbard said. “As we promised when we were elected, this budget adheres to the Proration Prevention Act, which ensures that students and teachers don’t run the risk of devastating mid-year cuts like they experienced every year between 2008 and 2011 under Democrat leadership.”
Poole pointed to the forced implementation of Obamacare mandates, which have caused education employee insurance costs to skyrocket by $75 million, as the primary reason for prioritizing the Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Program in this year’s budget.
“Obama’s so-called Affordable Care Act has proven to be anything but affordable, and teachers and support staff are being affected like everyone else,” Poole said. “By providing nearly $50 million for active and retired employees’ health insurance, we are preventing substantial increases in their health care costs.”
Poole also noted that the budget fully repays the Rainy Day Fund and pumps needed funding directly into classrooms, where it is needed most.
“This budget reduces class sizes and allows for the hiring of up to 400 new teachers,” Poole said. “We are prioritizing students and giving local school systems flexible funding that can be used where it’s needed most for their individual student populations.”
Notable budget items put money directly into classrooms and fund proven programs:
- Provides $92M new dollars for K-12 education
- Increasing the middle school divisor by 1% which will decrease class sizes and allow for the hiring of more than 400 new teacher units
- $5.7 million in increased funding for textbooks
- $14.7M for Other Current Expenses, or OCE, providing local school systems the flexibility to determine the best use of their funds
- $8.7M in increased funding for transportation
- $605K in increased funding for classroom supplies
- An additional $10M to Alabama’s nationally recognized Pre-K program, known as First Class
- AMSTI and Advanced Placement will also receive an increased appropriation.
- To ensure that Alabama high school graduates are prepared for college or career, the career technical dual enrollment program will receive an additional $6M
- Increasing operations and maintenance (O&M) O& funding for 4 year colleges by approximately 1%.
The budget now moves back to the Senate for its review.