MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Don't look now but the State Legislature is in full swing.
There are some real positives coming down from the hill, but before we get too excited there are still some real challenges as well.
One huge positive is the Education Fund budget getting out of committee in the House with long overdue pay raises for our teachers and administrators. Teachers are the lifeline to our youth and to ignore theme monetarily has been a huge injustice. The raise is not as much as they would have hoped, but maybe it is the start to a trend in better teacher and administrator benefits. Hopefully that budget gets passed without changes.
That leads us to the ever present elephant in the room. The General Fund Budget.
The House Ways and Means Committee passed a version of the General Fund Budget this week that increases funding to Medicaid and Corrections. The increases to Medicaid do not come close to the figure that was proposed by the agency. Many other agencies are again facing cuts.
Teacher pay raises are a great start to the budget discussions, but the General Fund shortfalls still must be addressed. With a state majority that refuses new revenue streams and a Republican dominated Legislature that refuses to seriously look at a lottery or expanded gambling, the teacher pay raises may be a lone bright spot in another lackluster session.