We have reached the half-way point this session. The Alabama Legislature has completed 15 Legislative days. You may start seeing things speed up during the remaining 15 days. There is discussion among legislative leaders the remaining weeks will be 3-day weeks, meaning the legislature will meet Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, in hopes of finishing the first week of June.
SB199 (Orr) ETF Budget was the headliner this week. This year's $7.1 billion budget is the state's largest ever. Thursday, the Senate ETF budget passed by a vote of 28-2. The Senate ETF budget includes the following:
- 4% pay raise for PreK-14 education employees
- First Class Pre-K: $26.8 million increase
- Dual enrollment scholarship program: $1 million increase
- Technology Coordinators: $311,023 increase
- Current Units: $3 million increase
- School Nurses: $1 million increase
- NBCT: $300,000 increase
- Jobs for Alabama Graduates (JAG): $500,000 increase
- Divisors lowered in grades 4-6 from 21.03 to 20.43
- Supercomputer Authority: $4 million increase will allow all public schools and public libraries that want broadband services and offer wi-fi to do so.
Foundation Program (all increases from FY19)
- Textbooks $75/ADM
- Classroom Materials and Supplies $600/unit
- Technology $350/unit
- Professional Development $100/unit
- Library Enhancement $200/unit
- CLAS Certified Instructional Leader (CIL) - $548,000
- Bullying Prevention Pilot Project - $1.75 million – State Superintendent shall distribute grants to local education agencies after the LEA submits a grant application seeking to develop and implement evidence-based practices to promote a school environment free of harassment, intimidation, violence, and threats of violence. The first grant shall be to Birmingham City Board of Education.
- Computer Science
- New Schools for Alabama: $500,000 to recruit charter schools into the state.
When the budget came out of committee Tuesday, transportation was fully funded, but Thursday on the Senate floor an amendment increased the Rural Broadband Grant Program $10 million. $6 million from transportation and $4 million from ARI was reallocated to the Rural Broadband Grant Program totaling $30 million. According to Sen. Orr this amendment was requested by Sen. Marsh.
The $35 million for CHIPS was removed from the Senate ETF Budget. $55 million was not deposited into the Budget Stabilization Fund, instead was appropriated to various programs throughout the budget.
Sen. Garlan Gudger and Sen. Rodger Smitherman sponsored an amendment which passed and added funding for education retirees. The amendment is a conditional appropriation providing for a one-time lump-sum bonus of $400 to retirees of the Teacher's Retirement System (TRS), conditioned upon SB288 or HB439 being signed into law, the availability of funds, the recommendation of the Finance Director, and approval of the Governor.
SB199 and other education budget bills now move to the House Ways & Means Education Committee, where line-items will change. CLAS will keep you up-to-date on all the changes when they happen.