What is the easiest way to get a highly-motivated block of voters on your side during an election year? Give them money. Paying for it is a little trickier apparently, but those are minor details.
Fear not legislators. The governor is going to call for higher pay for state employees. The timing is merely coincidental … now figure it out. Gov. Kay Ivey’s budget director Clinton Carter told legislators that things are looking up.
“This is as healthy a budget as we’ve seen in a long time,” Carter added. “But that said, it would be irresponsible for us to not proceed with caution.”
Why this matters: This isn’t to say the pay raise is only happening because of the election year we are entering. It also doesn’t mean that the state employees and teachers don’t deserve it and haven’t received it. State employees haven’t had an increase since 2008, but there are other matters that need to be addressed first.
— Carter indicated Ivey’s budget included $92.5 million for pay raises for education employees, and $14.4 million for state employees.
— A one percent raise for teachers will cost an estimated $5 million; legislators must also factor in retirement costs for these employees as well.
— No matter what Ivey proposes, expect Democrats to demand more. This is an election year and Democrats must super-serve the wishes of the Alabama Education Association in order to remain competitive.
— Other drains on the budget still loom large in the Legislature, including corrections costs, with a federal judge demanding more mental health spending, and never-stopping Medicaid increases placing more strain on the budget.
Dale Jackson hosts a daily radio show from 7-11 a.m. on NewsTalk 770 AM/92.5 FM WVNN and a weekly television show, “Guerrilla Politics,” on WAAY-TV, both in North Alabama. Follow him @TheDaleJackson.