MONTGOMERY - By a 28-2 vote Thursday, May 2, the Alabama Senate approved a $7.1 billion Education Trust Fund for Fiscal Year 2020, which starts October 1, and a 4% pay raise for Alabama’s teachers and education support personnel, which follows a 2.5% pay raise last year. It is the largest education budget in Alabama’s history.
“This is a banner day for education in Alabama. Thanks to a growing economy and the fiscal discipline that Republicans have had for the past several years, we now have the largest education budget in the history of our state,” Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) said. “A strong educational system is the foundation of a thriving state, and the 4% pay raise represents the legislature’s commitment to rewarding teachers and ensuring that Alabama is competitive in recruiting the best teachers we can to lead Alabama’s classrooms.”
The FY20 education budget includes a $26.8 million increase for First Class, Alabama’s nationally-recognized, volunteer pre-kindergarten program. This year, the National Institute for Early Education Research ranked First Class as the highest-quality Pre-K program in the nation for the 13th year in a row.
The Senate’s education budget includes the 4% pay raise for all K-12 and two-year college education employees, a $39 million increase for the community college system, a $6 million increase for workforce development programs administered by the Department of Commerce and an additional $900,000 for career tech initiatives in the K-12 system.
“This education budget also has some huge wins for west Alabama. I worked hard with Education Budget Chairman Arthur Orr and members of the education committee, and they agreed to put in an increase of $950,000 for the mine safety training program at Bevill State,” Reed said. “Further, we were able to get an increase of $20,000 each for Bevill State’s four campuses.”
“I have had a lot of teachers and administrators tell me that we need more mental health counselors in the K-12 system, and I made sure that was a priority for this budget. We doubled the allocation for the school-based mental health services collaboration, and I hope we can do more in the future,” Reed continued.
Alabama’s largest education budget in history also includes a $1.5 million increase for dual enrollment scholarships, and an additional $10 million for the Alabama Reading Initiative.
The FY20 education budget now goes the House of Representatives.
Thursday concluded the 15th of 30 possible legislative days in the 2019 regular session.