Legislature passes education budget

Published 9:01 am Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Legislature gave its final approval early this morning for the state education budget.

After passing the House of Representatives by a vote of 67-31, the education budget passed the Senate by a vote of 19-6 at 7:48 a.m. today.

If it becomes law, the new budget will pay for 1,125 fewer state-funded teacher positions at schools across the state. The budget will become law unless Gov. Robert Bentley objects.

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The budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which will begin Oct. 1, will spend $5.59 billion from the Education Trust Fund. That’s an increase of $240.7 million from this past year. The Education Trust Fund is the main source of state tax dollars for the state’s public schools and colleges.

The proposed $240.7 million increase in trust fund spending is coupled with the loss of as much as $462.5 million in federal stimulus money that supplemented trust fund spending this year, but will not be available next year.

The new budget does not provide money for cost-of-living raises for public school employees.

The budget will also pay $81.6 million less next year from the trust fund for pension coverage for employees of public schools, two-year colleges and universities. Employees will have to pay more for pension coverage to make up the difference.

The proposed budget will spend $3.62 billion from the Education Trust Fund for the foundation program for public kindergarten through 12th grade. That’s a $174.6 million increase from last year.