MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives closed out the 2024 regular legislative session Thursday after briefly holding up the Education Trust Fund budget in hopes of securing a compromise on the now-dead gambling package.

The House had delayed voting on the ETF budget for some time while House legislators attempted to negotiate a compromise with the Senate over a comprehensive gambling package the Senate rejected last week.

SEE: Lottery, gambling constitutional amendment falls one vote short in Senate

The House spent most of Thursday in recess while lawmakers scrambled between caucus meetings and negotiations to leverage the ETF vote for some compromise on gambling. Some House lawmakers suggested delaying the vote on the ETF budget bills until after the session, which could force a special session and possibly another vote on the gambling package.

SEE: House passes ETF supplemental after bashing Senate for killing gambling package – 'This House bows down to the Senate too often'

Ultimately, the negotiations fell through, and the House passed the ETF budget and swiftly adjourned Sine Die.

The ETF budget emerged from a conference committee between the House and Senate, and the House passed it with minimal changes last week.

RELATED: House easily passes education budget, appropriations totaling nearly $11 billion

Several lawmakers used debate time to complain about the Senate, a common theme for the last several weeks. However, the House eventually passed the ETF budget unanimously right before adjourning for the final time. The Senate swiftly followed suit, and Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill later that evening.

House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said that House members attempted a last-minute push for some gambling compromise on Thursday but quickly discovered that was not possible.

"I think there was some ideas of maybe they could get something for the people," Ledbetter said. "That's kind of what they were trying to do. And, when they seen it wasn't going to happen, it's time to move on. That was kind of it. I mean, it wasn't a major push. It was just something that they seen some opportunities, and certainly, we listened to those and give that a chance to look at it, but it just wasn't possible."

"We talked about it. As I said, we've passed it out twice; we could have passed it again, but, you know, It just wasn't meant to be in this session at this time," he continued.

Apart from gambling, Ledbetter stated he was "excited" about the ETF and General Fund Budgets advanced by the legislature this year.

"Both the chairmen did an outstanding job," Ledbetter continued. "And certainly, the education budget being as strong as we've ever had, and the general fund as well. I'm very proud of those people, the chairmen, and their committees for the work they've done."

"Giving teacher's pay raises is a big deal. Giving state employees pay raises is a big deal. You know, this is the fourth year in a row that we've been able to give pay raises, which I think is probably as long a run as the state's had, so I'm proud of that. I'm proud we're able to support our employees and give them the raises that they deserve.

Gov. Kay Ivey also applauded the final passage of the ETF budget.

"Ensuring every Alabama student receives a quality education is my number one priority, and I am proud we are once again, for a sixth straight year, investing a record amount in education," Ivey said.

"From fully funding critical programs like the Literacy and Numeracy Acts to supporting the Turnaround Schools program to increasing our investment in special education to prioritizing workforce development needs like career coaches and dual enrollment, this budget wisely invests in the spectrum of education. I am proud we are jumpstarting priority projects like the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences. We are giving more Alabama families the ability to choose the school that best suits their child's needs through my education savings account program. We are ensuring students are protected by investing in their mental health care and in the safety of our schools."

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