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Alabama House approves $9.3 billion education budget

House lawmakers approved a state education budget that would add up to $11 billion and includes a big raise for new teachers, a new health sciences high school in Demopolis, and more money for assistant principals and principals.

The House approved budget package includes a $9.3 billion regular budget (HB145). That is a 6.25% increase – the largest amount allowed by law – over the current year’s $8.8 billion. The budget now heads to a Senate committee.

Two supplemental appropriations totaling $1.7 billion include $1 billion from the Advancement and Technology Fund in HB147 and a $651 million appropriation of unexpected tax revenue from the 2023 tax year in HB144.

The House passed the budget bills almost unanimously and with few changes, but denied a proposal to allocate $13 million to fund free summer meals for eligible children.

Higher education institutions will receive $2.4 billion through the regular budget, an increase of $137 million over the current year. Of that increase, community colleges will get about $20 million more for dual enrollment and other programs.

Pay raises for education employees are also included in the regular budget. Nearly all education employees will get a 2% raise, but the amount of a starting teacher’s pay would rise to $47,600 – the highest among neighboring states. The raise is expected to cost $104 million.

K-12 education would receive $6.4 billion through the regular budget, an increase of $400 million over the current year.

That includes $11 million to fund 200 additional assistant principals. Currently a school must have 500 students to earn state funding to hire an assistant principal but the budget bill lowers the requirement to 300 students..

Funding for a program to improve the quality of school principals is also included. Those who complete the program requirements will earn a $10,000 stipend and assistant principals could earn as much as $5,000 for the full year.

Administrators in low-performing or high-poverty schools can earn additional stipends: $5,000 for principals and $2,500 for assistant principals.

Other education-related initiatives would receive $573.8 million from the regular education budget.

A second bill in the budget package, HB147, is an appropriation from the Advancement and Technology Fund, which currently holds a balance of $1.75 billion. It would be split between K-12 and higher education based on enrollment:

  • K-12 – $726.3 million
  • Higher education – $273.7 million

Lawmakers did not release any money from the A & T fund during last year’s budget process.

HB144, the $651 million supplemental appropriation of unexpected 2023 tax revenue, which will be available as soon as Gov. Kay Ivey signs the budget, was split among higher education, K-12 and other education-related initiatives:

  • K-12 – $263.9 million
  • Higher education – $337.6 million
  • Other education-related initiatives – $49.7 million

Those amounts included spending for:

  • $50 million to fund education savings accounts created under the CHOOSE Act,
  • $40 million for a grant program for community colleges,
  • $20 million for the new statehouse building,
  • $20 million for the new Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences,
  • $20 million for the Lt. Governor’s K-12 capital grant program
  • $7 million for capital expenditures for public charter schools,
  • $5 million for programs to help struggling readers beyond third grade,
  • $10 million for the American Village,
  • $13 million for the Alabama Commission on Higher Education,
  • $4.5 million for the ReEngage Alabama initiative

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