The Alabama Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee on Wednesday gave a favorable report on the bills in the Education Trust Fund budget (ETF) package.

House Bill 135 (HB135) is sponsored by State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) who chairs the House Ways and Means Education Committee.

The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee is chaired by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur). Orr introduced a Senate committee substitute for HB135. The Committee adopted that substitute, so it was actually the Senate substitute that passed the committee.

The Senate version of the ETF is $8,246,265,653, which is $85,946,359 more than the House version of the ETF at $8,160,319,294. The Senate version is however still less than Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) requested during her state of the state in January. The FY2023 budget that goes into effect on Oct. 1 is an increase of $587,339,537 from FY2022 – itself already the largest the state has had in its 203-year history.

Orr told reporters that $40 million of that $85,946,359 increase in the House budget was additional pay raises on top of the 4% across-the-board raise that the House approved. Orr said that the Senate budget raises the pay of substitute teachers and the pay of teachers in the middle of the pay matrix. While every teacher and education employee will receive a 4% pay raise, some of those “middle matrix” teachers in years five through 10 could receive “double-digit" pay raises.

“We have a teacher shortage,” Orr told reporters. “I have talked with Eric Mackey (the State School Superintendent) and they are very concerned about the numbers of teachers leaving the field and the numbers of young people going into the field.

“We need to get a qualified teacher in every classroom. Compensation is one component of that.”

The state raised the pay matrix for science and math teachers last year. Orr said that all of the teachers will be getting raises under this plan and that every teacher will get a 1% raise for every year that she or he teaches. This also removes the current cap on step increases at 27 years. A veteran teacher would continue to get 1% raises even after year 27.

The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education will receive $186,198,945 – the full amount.

Notable highlights in the budget include:

  • The State Department of Education will receive $186,198,945.

  • Local boards of education will receive $4,849,559,495.

  • The Community College Board of Trustees will receive $515,754,907.

  • The State Department of Education will receive $467,211,467.

  • The Alabama Commission on Higher Education will receive $61,161,869.

  • The University of Alabama System $629,150,749.

  • The Auburn University System $335,418,459.

  •  The University of South Alabama $140,713,869.

  • The Alabama Department of Commerce $74,890,922.

  • Department of Mental Health $67,919,836.

  • Department of Veterans Affairs $66,651,301.

  • Department of Youth Services $58,492,655.

  • Department of Human Resources $50,502,437.

  • Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs $31 million.

  • Debt service $31,765,000.

  • Alabama Supercomputer Authority $19,432,955.

  • Alabama Department of Public Health $17,065,179.

  • Alabama Public Library Service $14,270,190.

  • Department of Examiners of Public Accounts $10,681,750.

Alabama has a budgeting system with two budgets, the ETF and State General Fund (SGF). The ETF and SGF this year are both the largest in state history. The Senate could consider the education-related ETF on the floor of the Senate as early as Thursday. Because the Senate committee has made changes the budget will have to go back to the House for consideration of the Senate changes. Both the House and the Senate have passed their own versions of the SGF and it is in a conference committee.  

Thursday will be day 26 of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session. There is a maximum of five legislative days left in this current session, but once both of the budgets pass, the legislature can choose to end the session at any time.

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