Alabama legislature passes education appropriations package; Both budgets on Ivey’s desk
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama legislature has now sent both the General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets for Fiscal Year 2021 to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk.
The Senate on Saturday unanimously passed the education appropriations package, including three bills with floor substitutes: HB 187 (the ETF budget bill), HB 190 and HB 189.
Those bills as substituted were sent back the same day to the House, which then voted to concur with the Senate-passed versions of the three bills.
The FY21 education budget represents the largest in state history; while approximately $90 million more than the FY20 ETF budget, the ETF budget passed Saturday was significantly trimmed down from pre-pandemic plans.
The FY21 General Fund budget, which passed the legislature on Thursday, would also be the largest in state history.
Both budgets received overwhelming, bipartisan support in the legislature.
The General Fund budget passed the House by a vote of 75-1. The Senate then quickly voted 30-0 to concur with the House-passed version of the budget bill. A simple majority of each chamber would be needed to override an Ivey veto, should that occur.
You can view a live tweet thread from Saturday here.
In a statement regarding the ETF budget, Senate Finance and Taxation Education Chairman Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) said, “This year, despite all the turmoil and chaos, we are on track to have the largest budget ever passed for education in this state, while also spending an amount far less than initial projections.”
“At the forefront of this budget is the $30 million spent on early grade child reading which will become an educational foundation for students across the state,” continued Orr. “This budget allocates an additional $12 million for the Community College System along with an increase of several million for the Department of Early Childhood Education. This budget also appropriates an additional $50 million for the State Department of Education while also giving $16 million directly to local school districts.”
The education budget package originated in the House under the leadership of Ways and Means Education Chairman Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa). Poole and Orr received widespread praise from their respective chambers upon the passage of the package in each body.
“We were able to craft the largest education budget in our state’s history,” Orr advised. “This legislation puts education first and I’m grateful to my colleagues in the House for their help in creating this budget.”
“This is a budget we can all be proud of that takes into account the educational needs of our state while also spending conservatively during these uncertain times,” Orr added.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) praised the ETF budget for allowing educators to begin planning for the future.
“This is the largest education budget in state history and it is a good budget. It was important to give our teachers and administrators something to work with as they plan for the next school year before we got deeper into the summer,” Marsh stated. “I want to thank Senator Orr and his staff, as well as the members of the education budget committee for their commitment to crafting a sensible, fiscally responsible spending plan despite a difficult situation. Every Senator should be proud of this budget and the support it provides for our teachers and students.”
Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) echoed his strong support in a statement.
“This is a banner day for education. Despite the current situation, we now have the largest education budget in Alabama history that puts teachers, students and administrators first,” Reed commented. “A strong system of education is the foundation of a thriving state, and the fact that we are able to pass this budget without cuts or proration is a testament to the sound principles with which the Republican controlled Senate operates. I want to thank Senator Orr and the members of the education budget committee for their work on a budget we can all be proud to support.”
The legislature on Saturday wrapped up its business for the remainder of the regular session but will return on May 18 in expectation of Ivey vetoing the General Fund budget.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn