MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — On Thursday, the Alabama Senate passed a $7.67 billion Education Trust Fund budget, the largest education budget in state history.
The budget, which was sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, passed favorably out of the Senate Committee on Finance and Taxation Education with a 12-0 vote Tuesday.
The Senate-approved education budget addresses several important priorities:
- Provides funding for Gov. Kay Ivey’s recommended 2% across the board pay raise for public education employees, including teachers, support staff, and transportation workers;
- Confronts the significant shortage of credentialed math and science teachers across the state by creating a new salary matrix to recruit these essential educators;
- Supplies funding for step raises – at least 2% – for all teachers;
- Establishes a compensation commission to make sure Alabama educators’ total compensation (retirement, health benefits, and salary) is competitive with the southeast peer group – particularly contiguous states;
- Funds the school nurse program to ensure there is a nurse in every school system;
- And sets up a retiree trust fund to present teachers with bonuses.
“The budget passed today in the Senate provides a substantial amount of funding that will allow us to address several critical educational needs across the state, the most noteworthy of these being the crying demand for certified math and science teachers,” Orr said in a statement provided by the Alabama Republican Caucus. “There are around 7,500 secondary level positions for math and science teachers statewide, and only 4,300 of those are filled with properly certified individuals. Our students deserve the best education we can possibly provide them, and that certainly requires recruiting credentialed teachers.”
The bill will now head to the Alabama House of Representatives for consideration. Education Trust Fund Appropriations comparison spreadsheet can be viewed here.