Chairman Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, presents two of the four bills in the economic package promoted as “The Game Plan” to members of the Ways and Means Education committee on Apr. 12, 2023. (Alander Rocha/Alabama Reflector)
The proposed $8.8 billion Education Trust Fund budget passed an Alabama House committee Wednesday and could be voted on by the full House on Thursday.
The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved the ETF and related bills on a series of voice votes. While the budget follows the Senate version, which passed on May 4, House members voted to double proposed tax refunds in the bill.
“I will say that [Senate Finance and Taxation Chair Sen. Arthur Orr] and I had worked together on both the supplemental and the budget as the Senate developed theirs so that we could try to get to a point to where we had as few disagreements as possible,” he said.
If approved, the $8.8 billion budget would be about $537 million larger than the current budget, a 6.5% increase.
The tax rebates, which Gov. Kay Ivey called for in her State of the State address in March, would go from $105 per person and $210 per couple to $210 per individual and $420 per couple. Ivey had called for $400 rebates, The amendment raised the fiscal note from $275 to $550 million, Garrett said.
Teachers will receive a 2% pay raise. The Alabama Reading Initiative will receive $94,239,601, which is unchanged from FY23. The Alabama Math, Science, Technology Initiative will receive $73,299,318, which is an increase of $25 million or about 52%.
The colleges and universities will receive a total of $1.554 billion, an increase of $104.3 million over the current year, or about 7.2%.
The governor’s initial recommended budget had $10 million going towards school safety, which was quadrupled in the Senate. Garrett maintained the increase.
Garrett’s budget also maintained the $10 million put towards underperforming schools, which is unchanged from last year.
Other changesThe following are changes from the Senate version:
- $104,000 added to the ACCEL cyber program in K-12 schools
- $15,000,000 added to the K-12 foundation program
- $450,000 added to programs for at-risk students
- $50,000 added to Jones Valley Teaching Farm
- Removed the $15,000,000 for support staff minimum salary
- $388,907 decrease from the Financial Assistance Program under the Alabama State Department of Education
- Deleted the principal mentoring program, which is an old version of the program, Garrett said.
- $438,907 decrease from Teacher Professional Development Training
- $500,000 added to gifted students grant program
- $100,000 added to the Humanities Foundation
- $34,907 added to the ARC of Southwest Alabama
- Combined two different programs related to medical residencies into one $800,000 program in Bibb County
- $50,000 for Alabama Coaches Official Organization
- $800,000 decrease for University of Alabama-Birmingham Primary Care Physician Residency Program
- $660,000 decrease for UAB Children’s Hospital of Alabama Workforce Development
- $800,000 decrease for University of South Alabama Primary Care physician residency program
Some of the eliminations or decreases may have been reclassified in other line items.
Overall, the Ways and Means version of the budget increased the K-12 budget slightly and decreased the Higher Education budget slightly.
The committee also approved about $2.8 billion in supplemental appropriations for state agencies this year, though the House version differs from a Senate-passed verison.
In Garrett’s version of the supplemental budget, the allocation for the State Department of Education’s allocation increased by roughly $8 million, with line items including American Village.
The supplemental budget also includes the school safety funds. Garrett increased the allocation for Ed Farm from $237,503 to $2,237,503.
Garrett added $1.75 million for recovery from the Selma storms. $250,000 was added for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. $100,000 was added for cerebral palsy services in Mobile. $300,000 was added for the Woolley Institute for Spoken Language Education for children’s hearing services.
Garrett increased the amount for the Saban Discovery Center, a planned children’s museum in Tuscaloosa focused on science and technology, from $15,000,000 to $17,000,000.
Garrett decreased the amount for the Department of Commerce one-time expenses by $3,000,000, which came from the Lauderdale County Commission hydroelectric workforce training center.
Garrett also removed $5,000,000 from Cahaba Research, a clinical research center, for a Long COVID study under the Alabama Innovation Fund.
Garrett increased the funding for the Alabama Commission on Higher Education by around $13 million, with the money going towards several projects. More money was given to Tuskegee and money was allocated to a Forest Workforce Training Center. $4.5 million was also given to ReEngage, with $4.5 million for Retain Alabama removed. $5 million was also given to the Birmingham Zoo Alabama Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
The amount given for the University of Alabama Birmingham deferred maintenance was doubled. More money was also given to Athens State University, University of North Alabama and Montevallo for deferred maintenance.
More money was given to Jacksonville State University for research studies. More money was also given to the University of South Alabama for renovation.
The supplemental cut the Community College System supplemental by around $13 million compared to the Senate. Deferred maintenance was cut from $26,350,000 to $5,000,000. $4 million was cut from the Alabama Centers for Rural Healthcare Opportunities.
More money was added to the Marine Environmental Science Consortium and the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission.
The Ways and Means version decreased the amount for the Lieutenant Governor’s Capital Grant Program from $180,000,000 to $104,000,000.
$75,000 was added for a Jesse Owens Memorial.
Garrett cut funds from the Educational Opportunities Reserve Fund.
Garrett allocated $750,000 for the Legislative Services Agency to contract and conduct a feasibility study of a healthcare residency program in the Black Belt.
$4.5 million was added to the Department of Mental Health for East Alabama Academy and Hillinski’s Hope. There was also an addition of $450,000 for Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and $500,000 for a dental clinic in Dothan through the Department of Public Health.
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