December 6, 2022

Alabama House committee advances $1.28 billion Education Trust Fund spending bill

A bill appropriating $1.28 billion toward Alabama’s Education Trust Fund continues to move through legislative channels after receiving a favorable vote from a House panel.

In January, state Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, introduced House Bill 138, outlining how funds from the ETF could be appropriated through the end of the state’s current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Most recently, a substitute version of the bill, with an updated list of proposed allocations, was under review.

The House Ways and Means Education Committee, which Garrett chairs, approved the substitute version of the bill on March 2 without any substantive discussion. The bill currently remains in committee upon a further hearing.

Daniel Davenport, a state legislative fiscal analyst, provided a fiscal note after the House Ways and Means Education Committee adopted the substitute version of HB 138.

According to Davenport’s analysis, the bill in its current iteration would fund two-dozen specific education line items if it were adopted as-is.

The largest appropriation, accounting for nearly half of the total bill amount, would go toward the ETF’s advancement and technology fund for an assortment of one-time technology and capital projects. It totals $652.12 million.

The $1.28 billion ETF spending package also includes several other sizable allocations, including $200 million to service existing debt and $177.37 million toward the Alabama State Treasury Office’s Prepaid Affordable College Tuition, or PACT, program.

Also on the list is a $111.18 million line item to the ETF’s budget stabilization fund and $58.4 million toward the teachers’ retirement system for a one-time bonus for the retirees receiving benefits through the program.

HB 138 was one of 11 pieces of legislation the House Ways and Means Education Committee took up at its March 2 meeting.

The committee also gave a favorable vote on HB 136, legislation that would provide a 4-percent salary increase for public education employees in several sectors.

Among them: local boards of education, the two-year postsecondary institutions under the board of trustees of the Alabama Community College for fiscal year 2023 and multiple state-based specialty schools.

Garrett also is the lead sponsor of HB 136.

In his fiscal note for this particular bill, Davenport laid out the estimated cost of the 4-percent pay increase and its long-term ramifications.

“The total estimated cost of this salary increase is $178.6 million, including the associated retirement and FICA increases, for fiscal year 2023 and each year thereafter,” Davenport wrote.

He added, “This act will increase the obligations of the funds of the various local boards of education for fiscal year 2023 and each year thereafter by undetermined amounts, dependent upon the extent that local boards of education have employees paid from federal or local funds or provide a pay raise on salary supplements.”

This article was originally posted on Alabama House committee advances $1.28 billion Education Trust Fund spending bill

Sydney Boles