On Wednesday, the Alabama House Ways &amp;amp; Means Education committee is expected to vote on a supplemental appropriation bill to spend an additional $1,283,283,616 from the Education Trust Fund (ETF) for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022.
This is on top of the current 2022 ETF budget that was already the largest in state history at a record $7,658,926,116.
House Bill 138 (HB138) is sponsored by Way &amp;amp; Means Education Chairman Danny Garrett (R-Trussville).
The budget breaks down as follows:
$177,373,600 to the State Treasurer’s Office for the PACT Program
$37.2 million to the Teachers’ Retirement System for a one-time bonus for retirees of the Teachers’ Retirement System
$651,528,556 to the ETF Advancement and Technology Fund
$60 million to State Board of Education – Local Boards of Education for TEAMS Fund
$1.25 million to Department of Commerce for ALEX: The Alabama Experience at the World Games and to support workforce efforts
$5.25 million to the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium of which: (1) $4 million for student dormitory renovations; (2) $500,000 for HVAC, food storage systems, and cafeteria serving line modernizations; and (3) $750,000 for replacement of a graduate student office/K12 computer laboratory building
$7 million to the Geological Survey to construct a new Core and Sampling Repository Building;
$1 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs for renovation of the Veteran’s Museum in Athens;
$1.5 million to the Fire Fighters Personnel Standards and Education Commission/Alabama Fire College for a new building for tractor-drawn training props
$200 million to the ETF Debt Service Sinking Fund to be used for existing debt service
$30 million to the Alabama Innovation Fund of which: (1) $15 million for Hudson Alpha; and (2) $15 million for Southern Research Institute
$111,181,460 to the ETF Budget Stabilization Fund.
If the supplemental appropriation passes, every public school system in the state will be getting an unexpected deposit, based on their enrollment, into their accounts before the end of the current fiscal year. A lot of this is the result of a billion-dollar surplus that the state collected in FY2021 that rolled over into FY2022.
State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) who chairs the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee, but who also sits on the education committee, assured 1819 News that all of the state’s reserve funds will be at 100 percent going into FY2023.
This supplemental appropriation was expected to be substituted Wednesday in committee.
The nearly $1.3 billion supplemental appropriation is part of the package of bills that travel through the process with the 2023 education budget.
The $8.1 billion ETF budget that the committee will vote on will surpass the FY2022 ETF as the largest in state history. Some $243 million of that increase however will be spent on increased pay and benefits for education employees, the largest part of that being a 4 percent across the board raise. Garrett explained that those teachers in the middle of their careers will get an even larger boost in pay in order to make the state more competitive with surrounding states during the middle years of a teacher’s career.
This budget is smaller than the $8.3 billion ETF budget request made by Gov. Kay Ivey (R), but that is largely cosmetic as Ivey had a $160 million line item for capital improvements. Garret said that this budget does not have that line item, but will allow systems to tap part of the $651,528,556 ETF Advancement and Technology Fund for capital projects for the first time. The ETF is also expected to be substituted.
If the committee gives a favorable report to HB138 and the ETF, then the package of education trust fund bills could be on the House floor as early as Thursday.
Wednesday will be day 17 of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session. The 1901 Constitution limits the Legislature to just 30 legislative days in a regular session.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.