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Taylor says he will forgo payraise, will use it for teachers

Special to The Advocate

State Sen. Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville) is making good on a campaign promise to forgo his share of the legislative pay raise enacted in 2007 by the last Legislature. Instead, as he promised voters, he has been setting aside the funds in a segregated account to help teachers pay for classroom supplies at schools throughout his senate district at a time when school budgets are in proration.

“I said during my campaign that the legislative pay raise was wrong, and it was.” Taylor said in a  statement released this morning.  “I said I wouldn’t take it, and I won’t.  I said that money should have gone to our schools, and now it will.

“This isn’t our money,” Taylor said. “This is the taxpayers’ money. This is money that could have been made available in the education budget to reduce proration at a time when parents are being asked to buy toilet paper for public schools and teachers are coming out of their own pockets to purchase classroom supplies.”

Taylor sent an e-mail (attached) on Dec. 29 to school superintendents throughout his district announcing his intent to disburse the funds he has already received.

“Although the accumulated funding is relatively small right now because I have only been in office for a short time, I would like to go ahead and make some funds available now to help defray classroom expenses of first-year teachers,” Taylor wrote the superintendents. “I know that in times like these, every little bit helps, especially during the first year of teaching.”

In the e-mail, Taylor requested that the superintendents get back to him by Jan. 7 with information about the number of first-year teachers working in schools in Senate District 30.

Meanwhile, Taylor has been maintaining the funds in a segregated, interest-bearing account since the first deposit in November. According to information provided to Taylor by the Legislative Fiscal Office, the pay raise represents $1,828 of a legislator’s monthly expense allowance.  (The November amount is slightly less because legislators were paid for a partial month, beginning after they took office on Nov. 3).  All of the funds, including interest, will go to classrooms in Senate District 30.

Taylor said he intends to follow through on another campaign promise by fighting to repeal the pay raise in the upcoming regular session. “I’ve already drafted the legislation, and I will introduce it on the first day,” he said.

On his first day at the State House, Taylor asked legislative staff not to pay him his share of the pay raise at all, but to send it to schools in his district instead.

“They said they couldn’t do it that way,” Taylor explained. “The only other option was to let the state keep it, and that didn’t sound too good to me. I made a promise during the campaign not to take that pay raise and to redirect the money to provide needed supplies for the classroom — to put the money to good use for the taxpayers who sent it to Montgomery in the first place.  And I wanted to live up to my word.  Setting it aside in a separate, segregated fund makes it possible for me to do exactly what I promised  — I don’t get the pay raise, and classrooms in my district will get some needed supplies,” Taylor said.

“If I have my way, we’ll repeal the pay raise altogether, and we’ll pass budgets that make sure government is able to live within its means.”

Taylor, who has never held elected office, was elected to his first term on Nov. 2, 2010.

Senate District 30 covers all of Butler, Crenshaw, and Pike counties, and parts of Autauga, Elmore, and Lowndes.