The education crisis: The future of proration in Alabama
The Alabama State Legislature met in special session in December to discuss the future of proration, and according to Gov. Don Siegelman, schools will face no more cuts in the 2002 – 2003 academic year.
&uot;The good news is that we have avoided proration, and there will be no school cuts,&uot; said Siegelman. &uot;The bad news is that because they were pushed by the political insiders and the big business lobby, members of the Alabama Legislature chose to raise taxes on people who make telephone calls instead of forcing giant corporations, who pay no taxes, to pay their fair share.&uot;
In 2000, 619 companies with more than $850 million in total income paid absolutely no taxes on that income. In 1999, one out-of-state corporation made more than $100 million and paid no income taxes, while a young teacher, making about $30,000 a year, would pay about $1,000 in income taxes.
Siegelman rejected the bill proposed by the legislature which would place higher taxes on every out-of-state long distance call made in Alabama on Dec. 21, and said, &uot;We must do something to prevent more school cuts, but it is simply wrong to ask the families of Alabama to pay more, while a handful of giant corporations continue to pay nothing.&uot;
However, when the bill was returned to the legislature with the governor’s veto, the legislature voted to override the governor’s decision.
&uot;The solution, fashioned by the legislature, is one that recognizes that we must all share responsibility for the well being of our educational system,&uot; said Senate President Pro Tem Lowell Barron. &uot;This solution is fair, and not only helps ensure the foundation of our education system, but also preserves the state’s ability to attract new industry and to expand Alabama businesses that create jobs and prosperity.&uot;
Dr. John Dolly, dean of the University of Alabama College of Education, predicts that the education funding crisis will continue in 2002. Dolly says that proration will force K-12 schools to eliminate electives and some extracurricular programs while higher education will be forced to close down low enrollment programs and cut back on services currently offered to K-12 education and other state agencies.
&uot;Lack of adequate funding combined with teacher and administrator shortages will continue making it harder for Alabama schools to recruit new staff,&uot; he said. &uot;This will result in the undoing of many of the positive gains and changes made over the past five years in K-12 education.&uot;
Although residents of Alabama will be the ones to help keep proration from occurring, the school children of Alabama will not suffer from lack of funding, and will be able to continue with many programs. Whether or not the Alabama legislature will be successful in preventing proration from occurring again will only be told with time.