MONTGOMERY — The Senate passed a $11 billion Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget and supplemental bills on Thursday.

The ETF budget and accompanying supplemental bills fund the state's various education-related expenses for fiscal year 2025, beginning Oct. 1, 2024, through Sept. 30, 2025.

The legislation includes a 2% pay raise for education employees.

The House passed the ETF budget in April.

The Senate added $10 million to a program that provides EBT benefits to kids for groceries to the budget. Alabama was one of 15 states that elected not to participate in the program this summer. A spokesman for Gov. Kay Ivey told 1819 News in January that Alabama was not participating in the program in 2024 due to the federal government cutting funding for states after the 2023 legislative session ended. 

"In the Senate version of the education budget the key differences from the House version were the $10 million that we appropriated for the feeding of children during the summer months next year. We're too late for 2024, but we'll be ready for 2025," State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), Senate Education Budget Committee Chairman, said Thursday.

The budget also includes a $5 million payment to an education retiree trust fund, which Orr calls "a first start."

"Another thing we did was provide for retirees in the retiree trust fund for educators and Chairman (Rex) Reynolds downstairs in the House is doing the same thing with state employees via the General Fund to prepare our trust funds for these retirees," Orr said. "It's something we put in place several years ago, but we did not begin making payments to them but we had a good installment for a first payment to start the pathway for a long-term sustainable plan for our state employees and our education retirees."

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