Record breaking education budget clears Senate committee

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 7:22 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - State senators got a look at the record-breaking education budget and the nearly $3 billion surplus. Governor Kay Ivey’s one-time rebate came up for debate because that money would come from the surplus. The rebate passed but it is less than what was expected.

State senators dropped the $400 rebate to $100 per filer, they say this is the cheaper option, but there are still many steps until the final passage for this rebate and the overall Education Trust Fund.

“Without reservation, this has been the most trying budgets,” said Senator Arthur Orr, R-Limesonte County.

State senators approved an $8.8-billion dollar education trust fund. This budget includes a 2% pay increase for teachers.

“They will get a 1% raise regardless of what the legislature does. So if you’re a classroom teacher, you will see a third person all in raised as opposed to a 2%,” said Orr.

Educational support staff rallied outside the state house because they’re tired of being left out of the budget.

“In Birmingham, for instance, a school bus driver can make $5,000 more a year for the exact same job that we’ve got others doing their rural school systems. So we wanted to create matrices, just like the teachers have a minimum salary schedule,” said Amy Marlowe, executive director of the Alabama Education Association.

The staff wants a starting salary of $15 per hour to match the minimum salary for school nurses.

Lesia James is a registrar at Selma High School.

“I enroll, withdraw, I do our transcripts. Also, I do all job verifications. I also do all go to court, some of the students to make sure their attendance is right,” said James.

She says a minimum salary will make a huge difference.

“They’ll be able to meet their bills, even just feel more proud about their job, and they feel like they are worthy of what they do,” said James.

Senator Orr says the body is considering implementing a pay matrix.

The entire education trust fund and the rebate bill now move to the Senate floor for more debate.

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