Tag: education funding

Bill Increases Tax Credit Limit for Accountability Act Donors

Legislation in the Alabama State House would increase the allowable tax credit for individuals and corporations that donate to private school scholarships through the Alabama Accountability Act.

The 2013 law allows for tax credit-funded scholarships for families leaving the state’s lowest-performing public schools. There also is a separate $30 million-per-year scholarship fund for private school tuition. Businesses and individuals who donate to the fund receive income tax credits — money that would otherwise go to the state education budget. Scholarship granting organizations, or SGOs, collect and distribute the money to low-income families. Those students are not required to come from failing schools.

House Bill 559 by Rep. Charlotte Meadows, R-Montgomery, does not change that $30 million cap but expands the allowable credit from 50% of an individual’s tax burden to 75%, capped at $75,000. Read more.

$7.6B Education Budget Moves to House

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a record-setting $7.6 billion education budget for 2022.

The proposal includes a 2% across-the-board cost of living pay increase for K-12 and community college employees and two other more targeted pay increases for teachers. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.

The Senate also approved Senate Bill 327 to create a program to offer increased pay to middle and high school math and science teachers who meet certain qualifications. Additional money would also be available to those teachers who work in hard-to-staff schools. Read more.

Read complete legislative coverage

School Funding Change on the Move in the Legislature

Between the fall of 2019 and fall 2020, 59 public school systems’ enrollment grew by nearly 6,500 students.

But under the state’s current funding structure, systems have to fund most of that growth, including hiring the needed teachers, out of their local tax revenue, and state funding is slow to catch up, if it ever does, educators say. For some of the systems with the largest growth, that’s hundreds of students and millions of dollars.

Senate Bill 9 would amend the state’s Foundation Program to calculate growth so systems don’t have to wait a year for per-student funding, which this year is about $6,271. It would estimate non-virtual enrollment based on the previous years’ growth. Read more.

Lawmakers Discuss Education Pay Raises, a Focus on Literacy and Learning Loss

MONTGOMERY — Pay raises for teachers are possible in next year’s state education budget, as are more school nurses, a greater focus on literacy and catching students up from learning loss left over from the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s according to spending proposals discussed by state education leaders and lawmakers at budget hearings in the State House Tuesday. Read more.

Senate Passes $1.25 Billion Bond Issue for Schools

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama State Senate on Monday passed legislation to authorize a $1.25 billion bond issue to fund school construction and other capital improvement projects.

Senate Bill 242 passed 29-0 in the Senate and now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. First proposed by Gov. Kay Ivey in her State of the State address, the bond issue would help K-12 schools and state colleges pay for capital improvements, from construction projects to technology upgrades. Read more.

Why No One Opposed a $31M Transfer From Alabama’s Education Budget

MONTGOMERY — In the last days of the legislative session, in late May, lawmakers quickly and quietly transferred a tax revenue worth nearly $31 million a year from the state’s education budget to the General Fund budget to fill a “hole” created by other financial commitments.

Those normally opposed to diverting money from schools to other state expenses didn’t complain.

Education advocacy groups were relieved the education budget didn’t get stuck with the growing expense of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, so losing a small, flat revenue source was an acceptable tradeoff.

Some Republicans have said they didn’t know many details of the transfer, but leadership said the idea wasn’t new.

Democrats in the House say they didn’t have time to oppose it. They found out about it when it was on the House floor on the second to last day of the session via an amendment to an economic incentives bill they supported. If they tried to kill the transfer, they’d kill the incentives.

“What do you do?” said House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville. “You go on record voting against a bill for rural incentives?” Daniels said.

“Or do you approve an amendment that there’s a year to contend with?” Read more.

From Buses to Libraries, 2020 Education Has More for K-12 Schools

MONTGOMERY — An additional $318 million for K-12 schools is in Alabama’s 2020 education budget, and lawmakers and education leaders say that money will make tangible differences in local schools.

Gov. Kay Ivey signed the record-setting education budget into law Thursday.

“This budget represents significantly more resources for education,” Senate education budget committee chairman Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said.

Here’s what some of the new money will mean to K-12 schools.

There’s nearly $190 million more for the K-12 Foundation Program that supports schools’ basic functions. The 2020 total is $3.9 billion. There’s also an additional $27.8 million for transportation. Read more.

Budgets, Education Reform Among Bills Pending in Final Stretch of Legislative Session

Alabama lawmakers this year have approved a statewide gas tax increase, told sheriffs they can’t keep money meant for feeding jail inmates and said they want a shot at the U.S. Supreme Court with the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban.

The Legislature has two to three weeks remaining in its 2019 session, and a lot of legislating is left to do. Still on the table are proposals for a lottery, the state’s budgets, education bills and medical marijuana, to name just the tip of the iceberg.

For a look at some of the major bills that are pending and what might get punted to a special session later this year, Read more.

Higher Education Looks to Fix ‘Egregious Inequities’ in Funding for Some Universities

The record $7.1 billion education budget approved in the Alabama Senate last week contains at least 5% increases for the state’s public four-year universities, but a formula to get more money to underfunded institutions met with some concern.

“I represent an institution that feels like they were not made whole in the budget,” Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, said in a budget committee meeting last week.

His complaint was about the Alabama Commission of Higher Education’s attempt to address what it says are “the most egregious inequities in funding” at some universities.

The proposal would increase funding to some universities where the funding doesn’t match up with that of other schools across the nation that have similar missions, student bodies and degree production. Read more.