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House committee passes $9 billion education budget, pay raise for teachers

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An Alabama House committee Tuesday approved a record-high $9 billion education budget that includes a 2 percent pay raise for teachers.

Gov. Kay Ivey has consistently insisted on raises for teachers over her tenure, and has overseen a 15 percent raise for teachers since taking office.

House Ways and Means Education Committee Chair Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, said after the meeting that the budget is a move toward distributing funding based on needs, rather than just a headcount.

“I think it’s a good budget that moves us in the direction of maybe changing our funding formula so we can address some of these specific needs,” Garrett said. “We basically divide everything by headcount, regardless of needs,” he said. “So now that we have to look at a little more granularly how we disperse the money, but then also that will give systems more autonomy in how they internally disperse the money.”

The State Department of Education sees a notable 27 percent increase in its allocation. The budget funds the department at $682 million, a $147 million increase over last year’s allocation of $532 million.

A fifth of that additional funding has been injected into the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI), taking the program from about $73 million to $104 million, a 42 percent increase. Another fifth will go toward the Alabama Reading Initiative, a 52 percent increase in funding that will bring the program up to $143 million in funding.

Colleges and universities would also receive an additional $110 million, a 7.1 percent increase to their $1.55 billion budget last year; K-12 education would grow 4.3 percent to $4.68 billion; $36 million in additional funds will grow the Alabama Community College System by 6.5 percent.

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