MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Senate on Thursday passed the $7.67 billion Education Trust Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2022, the largest education budget in state history. The budget, SB189, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, passed favorably out of the Senate Committee on Finance and Taxation Education with a 12-0 vote on March 16.
The Senate-approved education budget addresses several important priorities:
- Provides funding for Governor Kay Ivey’s recommended 2% across the board pay raise for public education employees, including teachers, support staff and transportation workers
- Confronts the significant shortage of credentialed math and science teachers across the state by creating a new salary matrix to recruit these essential educators
- Supplies funding for step raises – at least 2% – for all teachers
- Establishes a compensation commission to make sure Alabama educators’ total compensation (retirement, health benefits and salary) is competitive with the southeast peer group – particularly contiguous states
- Funds the school nurse program to ensure there is a nurse in every school system
- And sets up a retiree trust fund to present teachers with bonuses.
“The budget passed today in the Senate provides a substantial amount of funding that will allow us to address several critical educational needs across the state, the most noteworthy of these being the crying demand for certified math and science teachers,” said Senator Orr. “There are around 7,500 secondary level positions for math and science teachers statewide, and only 4,300 of those are filled with properly certified individuals. Our students deserve the best education we can possibly provide them, and that certainly requires recruiting credentialed teachers.”
Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed, R-Jasper applauded the package’s passage. “We have a shortage of educators in Alabama, and that shortage is growing. This bill makes significant strides toward reducing that shortage by providing support to teachers to incentivize them to live and teach in Alabama. These incentives include across the board pay raises for educators and a new salary structure to help attract and retain certified STEM teachers in Alabama,” Reed said. “I would like to thank Senator Orr for his hard work on this budget, and I congratulate him on bringing this critical support to students and faculty across our state.”
“Over $200 million is being allocated toward salary increases. Additionally, substantial step raise increases are being provided for educators in order to retain these individuals in their midyears,” Orr continued. “Our greatest priority right now is to attract and keep quality educators. If we want to be competitive with our neighboring states, particularly in STEM related education, we must ensure we are adequately rewarding our teachers, which ultimately betters the state collectively,” said Orr.
This group of bills now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives for consideration.