The Senate unanimously approved legislation establishing a new K-12 Capital Grant Program administered by the Lieutenant Governor's Office that would "provide grants to eligible school systems to assist with capital projects, deferred maintenance, or technology needs" on Thursday.

If the legislation becomes law, the program is slated to receive $185 million in the supplemental education budget, which also passed the Senate on Thursday.

According to a fiscal note for the bill, the Alabama K-12 Capital Grant Program would provide eligible public K-12 entities grants, in amounts not to exceed $5 million per grant, assistance with: capital projects, the payment of existing debt service, correcting deferred maintenance of existing facilities, improving school security and safety, and the provision of technology and equipment for schools to expand educational opportunities. 

Finance and Taxation Education Committee chairman State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) said in a committee meeting on Wednesday the grant program would be for "I'm going to say projects from a couple hundred thousand to a million, or $2 million, or $3 million…somewhere in that range, maybe more that members can with their local superintendents apply and hopefully get some help and relief for their area." 

"It may not be enough to build a building, but it can certainly add a classroom or make some improvements," Orr said in committee. "The Lieutenant Governor's Office would handle this grant process."

State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile) said in committee on Wednesday, "This is the first time that something like this has been done." 

"I just want to know that it's going to be totally fair to every child in this state regardless of party affiliation of their legislators," Figures said.

Orr replied, "I would see this as a one-time unless we have this phenomenon again and there's a comfort level among the membership, all 140 of us, to do this again." 

"This was a concept that we thought well we know where the Lieutenant Governor's Office is," he added. "We know how to get in touch with him, most Senators and Representatives. He is a member of the executive branch so that would certainly give us more input."  

Any unexpended balances remaining at the end of any fiscal year would remain in the fund and be used for the program until expended. 

The legislation creating the program was amended on the Senate floor on Thursday to add an administrative fee for the "amount determined necessary by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, but not to exceed one-quarter of one percent of the available fund monies."

"They're going to have to hire a staff person or two to implement it," Orr said on the Senate floor on Thursday.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.