Agricultural programs supported by the Alabama Farmers Federation were among $7.1 billion in education appropriations approved Thursday by the Alabama Senate.
The Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget passed by a 28-2 vote. It will now go to the House of Representatives Ways and Means Education Committee.
Federation External Affairs Director Matthew Durdin thanked Senate leaders and Gov. Kay Ivey for crafting a budget that balances the state’s education needs and opportunities.
“We appreciate Sen. Arthur Orr’s, R-Decatur, work as chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee,” Durdin said. “With economic growth creating a surplus in the budget, Sen. Orr and his committee worked diligently to consider all requests and ensure taxpayer dollars are invested well. Gov. Ivey set a bold vision for the ETF budget, including teacher pay raises, expanding the pre-K program and increasing funding for higher education. The budget approved this week achieves those goals.”
Appropriations of interest to Federation members, compared to current year budget, included:
$5 million for Career Tech Operations & Maintenance, no change
$6.3 million for Career Tech Initiative, up $883,900
– Includes $433,900 for agribusiness education programs, like Ag in the Classroom, up $33,900
$100,000 for Alabama People Against a Littered State, new
$175,000 for Liberty Learning Foundation, up $100,000
$2.7 million for rural medical programs at universities, up $172,405
$5.5 million for Alabama Agricultural Land Grant Alliance, up $200,000
$1.5 million for Soil and Water Conservation Committee, no change
$2 million for Resources Conservation and Development, up $600,000
$200,000 for Alabama Forestry Commission Education Program, new
$33.7 million for Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, up $1.6 million
$35.4 million for Alabama Cooperative Extension System, up $1.9 million
– Includes $250,000 for Alabama 4-H Center, new
A major consideration in reconciling the House-passed General Fund (GF) budget and the Senate-passed ETF will be $35 million in funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Gov. Ivey requested the funding be included in the flush ETF rather than the perennially cash-strapped GF. The Senate, however, removed CHIP from the ETF.
Significant changes in the ETF include a 4% raise for teachers and an additional $26.8 million for the award-winning First Class pre-K program. If the ETF wins final passage, it will be the biggest education budget in state history and about $492.4 million higher than current year spending.