The new state fiscal year begins October 1, and the two state budgets are aligned. Both the General Fund and the state’s special education budget will be the largest in Alabama’s history.
The General Fund’s budget is a record-breaking $2.7 billion. Increases income to mental health and prisons. Medicaid continues to be a money-eater. The state employee’s cost of living will be raised by him 4%. It is her third time in recent history that a civil servant has received consecutive raises. In addition, retired government employees are given bonuses. Senator Greg Albritton (R-Escambia) and Rep. Steve Close (R-Ozark) are budget chairmen and deserve credit.
Mac McArthur, executive director of the veteran Alabama Workers Association, praised the 4% increase in salaries for state employees this year and the 2% increase last year. Ole Mac has put together his four raises in five years for his people.
Amy Marlowe, executive director of the Alabama State Education Association, and her chief lobbyist, Ashley McClain, deserve credit for raising teachers’ salaries by 4%. Once again, the AEA has become a force to be reckoned with at Goat Hill.
Congress passed a record-breaking $8.17 billion education budget. The historic spending plan will increase education funding by approximately $502 million this year. It received high praise from all aspects of education, such as teacher salaries and human resource development. The plan is directing more funding toward classroom materials, hiring technology coordinators, and reading coaches. He also needs $20 million to implement the K-5 Math Teaching Bill.
The budget includes a 4% pay raise for teachers and a lump sum for retirees. A bonus of about $33 million is also available to extend the life of teachers. Other states have similar salary adjustments. One of the most applauded budget allocations is an increase in funding from $700 to $900 per classroom.
A story that has been building for the past few years is the return of AEA as Goat Hill’s power player. The fruits of the association’s efforts were greatly manifested during the regular session of Congress. The AEA has clearly contributed to the creation of the education budget, which has raised a teacher’s salary by 4% of his and puts money into the classroom. You would have thought former AEA Director Paul Hubbert was still sitting in the gallery directing lawmakers’ votes for or against. They built the AEA into a recognized force on the state capitol.
The new leadership tandem of Marlowe and McClain reorganized in recognition of the state of Alabama, especially the Alabama legislature, being very Republican. They understand the rule that “money is the milk of politics” and “the more bees you get with the honey”.
The AEA has generously donated to House Republicans like anyone’s business, like any other special interest group. It is no longer taboo or heresy for Republicans and state senators to receive teacher union funding. The AEA gave Congressmen on both sides of the aisle a donation of $15,000 from her $10,000. Reviewing the campaign’s disclosure statement, AEA is the only entity issuing checks of this size. A check to the Senator’s coffers is over $25,000.
AEA lobbyists, especially McClain, have earned the friendship and respect of Republican congressmen and senators. She and her team traveled to districts across the state to get to know them and their families. They connect each legislator with a respected leading hometown educator who is a center of influence, and can coordinate fields or an army of teachers to work in districts for their legislative friends. This footwork and shoe leather, coupled with a massive campaign check, will resonate with legislators of both parties.
The decisive blow that echoed and echoed off the walls of the State Capitol was the defeat of the so-called school choice bill. Senator Del Marsh has made it his final mission to channel state education funds into private, parochial, and charter schools. His school choice bill was beaten hard by none other than his AEA. There is no doubt, folks. The AEA is back in Alabama politics.
Steve Flowers served in the Alabama Legislature for 16 years. Readers can email him at email@example.com.