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Alabama House passes $9.3 billion Education Trust Fund budget • Alabama Reflector

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The Alabama House of Representatives Tuesday approved a $9.35 billion Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget, an increase of $550 million (6.25%) from the previous year, with a 2% pay increase for education employees.

HB 145, sponsored by Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, passed on a 102-1 vote. The ETF funds public K-12 schools, colleges and universities and some state agencies. If signed into law, HB 145 will go into effect on Oct. 1, the start of the 2025 fiscal year.

“My top priority is providing Alabama’s K-12 system with the necessary tools to succeed while also remaining conscious of the state’s future needs,” Garrett said in a statement after the bill’s passage.

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The 2025 fiscal year funding bill includes:

  • An increase of around $110 million (7.1%) for colleges and universities, from $1.55 billion in the current budget to $1.66 billion;
  • An increase of roughly $196 million (4.3%) for the K-12 Foundation program, from around $4.49 billion to $4.68 billion;
  • A $36 million increase (6.5%) for the Alabama Community College System, from around $551 million to around $587 million;
  • An increase to the State Department of Education of around $147 million (27%), from $535 million to around $682 million.

Most of the Department of Education’s increase will go to specific programs such as English Language Learning; the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) and the Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI). 

Funding for AMSTI would increase by $31 million, from around $73 million to around $104 million, a 42% increase. The ARI would have an increase of around $49 million from around $94 million to around $143 million, a 52% increase.

The bill also includes an additional $200 million for the state’s pre-K program, which Garrett said would allow 45% of eligible four-year-old children to participate in a pre-K program.

The 2025 ETF also provides $48 million for implementation of the 2019 Literacy Act, which requires children to read at grade level by third grade, and $28 million for the 2022 Numeracy Act, which provides support to schools with low math scores but could leave them subject to intervention after 2026 if a school does not show progress. 

Textbooks or digital resources would be allocated at $100 per pupil, up from $75 from the previous year, based on average daily membership during the first 20 instructional days after Labor Day of the previous school year.

Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, speaks to colleagues on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives on May 11, 2023. (Brian Lyman/Alabama Reflector)

HB 146, sponsored by Garrett, would provide a 2% pay raise for state education employees, which remained unchanged from the Governor’s recommendation. Education employees also received a 2% raise last year. The bill passed the House on a 103-0 vote.

Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, who presented the bill on the House floor, said the 2% increase would be effective Oct. 1.

“This is one of these bills for the folks that are on the frontline, those that are in education that are doing the work,” Drummond said.

HB 144, sponsored by Garrett, is a supplemental appropriation bill to allocate about $651 million from the ETF towards the current fiscal year towards various state agencies.

This includes $109 million from the ETF to the local boards of education and $64 million to the State Department of Education for one-time expenses, as well as $30 million for the current fiscal year to the lieutenant governor for the K-12 Capital Grant Program. The University of Alabama System would receive $66 million. Auburn University would receive $28.6 million.

The bill also appropriates $50 million to the CHOOSE Act Fund, which would fund Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s). The bill passed 103-0.

Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, asks a question during a debate in the Alabama House of Representatives on Feb. 15, 2024. (Brian Lyman/Alabama Reflector)

Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, offered an amendment that would have added funding for a summer meal program for children (Summer EBT).

Alabama was one of 15 states that did not participate in the program in 2023 and it will not participate in 2024. Department of Human Resources commissioner Nancy Buckner said in January that it was not because the state was “philosophically opposed” to it but that the state did not have time to consider joining the program.

The amendment would reallocate the K-12 Capital Grant Program, about $30 million, toward providing the summer feeding program in the 2025 summer.

Garrett said providing that funding is a “little complicated” and said the state would have to provide some funding to administer it.

“We’re talking about children, and it is not like the funds that we’ve put in would be the only funds,” Hall said. “There are funds that would come from the federal government pretty much as they come through for our regular eligibility programs for meals.”

Garrett said he did not believe DHR or the state is necessarily opposed to considering the program.

“I’m thinking a lot of people say no — just because the feds started something, we should continue it,” Garrett said, adding “that process and even how to approach that process just needs to be determined.”

The amendment was tabled 73-28.

House Majority Leader Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle, offered an amendment to split $30 million proposed for the K-12 Capital Grant Program between that program, in the amount of $15 million, and another $15 million for the Executive Commission on Community Services Grants. The amendment passed 102-0.

Rep. Napoleon Bracy, D-Prichard, asked why Alabama State University was the only university not receiving an increase in funding.

“I was just wondering how we come up with the formula for the increases,” he asked.

Garrett said there isn’t a formula and that funding is based on requests, and that it’s not on the university “at all.”

Garrett accepted an amendment from Bracy to move $1 million from $5 million proposed for deferred maintenance for Historically Black Colleges and Universities to Alabama State University, increasing its funding from $8 to $9 million. The amendment passed on a 102-0 vote.

HB 147, part of the education budget package, would appropriate $1 billion from the Education Trust Fund Advancement and Technology Fund for the current fiscal year, with $273.7 million for public higher education institutions and $726.3 million for local school boards and various education state boards. The bill passed 103-0.

A woman listening with her chin in her hand.
Rep. Cynthia Almond, R-Tuscaloosa, listens to a budget presentation in the Alabama Statehouse on Feb. 6, 2024. (Brian Lyman/Alabama Reflector)

HB 163, sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Almond, R-Tuscaloosa, which passed as part of the education budget package, would establish the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences in Demopolis, a four-year residential high school. The school could open in the fall semester of 2026, according to the bill. If the bill is passed into law, $20 million would be appropriated from the supplemental bill for the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences in Demopolis.

The School of Healthcare Sciences would be the fourth residential high school in the state. The bill passed 103-0.

“As you know, there is a shortage of health care workers, not just in this state but in the whole country. The whole point of this school is to begin to train more health care workers that hopefully will stay,” Almond said.

Rep. A.J. McCampbell, D-Linden, offered an amendment to the supplemental funding that would allow up to 10 years for the school to become operational, making the funding available during that time. The bill that came out of committee would allocate the money to the Community College System if the bill were not passed in the 2024 legislative session. The amendment passed 102-0.

Separate funding bills for universities include:

  • HB 148, sponsored by Garrett, would allocate nearly $15 million from the ETF for Tuskegee University for the 2025 fiscal year. The bill passed 101-0.
  • HB 149, sponsored by Garrett, would allocate nearly $1.2 million for Talladega College for the 2025 fiscal year. The bill passed 101-0.
  • HB 150, sponsored by Garrett, would allocate $409,000 for Southern Preparatory Academy, a military boarding school, passed 102-0.

House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, in a statement after the bill’s passage, called the record-breaking ETF budget “historic.”

“I’m proud that the House has advanced a record-breaking Education Trust Fund Budget for the sixth straight year … By investing in our students’ education today, we are ensuring a brighter Alabama of tomorrow,” Ledbetter said.

The budget moves to the Senate.



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