Both sides say they're fighting for Alabama's children. But they have two very different ways of going about it.
Radio ads paid for by the Alabama Republican Party began airing across the state Monday. They support Governor Bob Riley's education budget.
That very same budget is under fire from the state teacher's union, the Alabama Education Association. So who's right?
Every year, the legislature passes two budgets - the education budget, which pays for education, and the general fund budget, which pays for everything else.
This year, the general fund budget is short. So the governor wants to use education money to pay for some general programs. That's where the controversy lies.
The radio ads slam the Alabama Education Association and it's leader, Paul Hubbert.
"If Paul Hubbert cared as much about children as they claim, they'd be thrilled with Riley's budget," the ad states.
Hubbert says he's used to the criticism. He says he's been a target for years. But that doesn't mean he'll stop his fight. "We're certainly not going to let him (Riley) beat up on us," he says. "We're going to tell people the truth."
Hubbert says the governor's plan would use education money to pay for things like youth prisons, children's health insurance, even milk inspectors.
"If we start doing that, we're basically diverting money from the trust that was set up 30 or 40 years ago by the people to fund schools," Hubbert explains.
The GOP's Twinkle Cavanaugh says the governor's budget puts more money in the classroom than ever before. Her party's radio ads encourage voters to call their lawmakers and urge them to pass it.
"What we're trying to do is communicate Bob Riley's message that he has put together a fiscally responsible budget that puts record amounts of money into the classrooms that doesn't raise taxes on Alabamians," Cavanaugh says.
Republicans say Hubbert is opposed to Riley's budget because it only includes a 4% pay raise for teachers and Hubbert is looking out for teachers' best interests. Hubbert says it's not about teacher salaries, but about keeping the education trust fund in tact.
The radio ads will air for one week. But the fight will last much longer. Neither the education budget nor the general fund budget has made it out of committee yet. The legislative session ends May 16th.
Reporter: Mark Bullock
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