Taylor gets seat on key panel

Published 9:21 pm Wednesday, January 19, 2011

State Sen. Bryan Taylor has been appointed to the Committee on Finance and Taxation-Education, also known as the Senate Education Budget Committee, which is responsible for setting the budget for the state’s K-12 schools, two-year colleges and universities.

“The Senate Education Budget Committee is one of the most important committees in the state’s Legislature, because this is the committee that crafts the annual budget for public education in Alabama,” Taylor said.

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Taylor was elected last November to represent Senate District 30, which includes all of Butler, Crenshaw and Pike counties, as well as parts of Autauga, Elmore and Lowndes counties.

So, for educational institutions such as Troy University, having the senator of the district representing Pike County at the committee has its advantages.

“My appointment to this committee means that Troy University and our local schools will have a seat at the table when the education budget is being crafted,” Taylor said.

In a press release, Taylor stated that he had asked to be appointed to the education budget committee because money is tight, and he wanted to make sure the taxpayers of his district were getting the very best return on every penny invested in education.

“We’ll have some very difficult decisions to make this year, but we must control spending and get the state’s financial house back in order,” he said. “If we make the right choices, we can balance the budget while ensuring adequate funding to continue the education reforms we know are working.”

And, because the forecast for revenues does not look good, Taylor aims to give educational institutions from his district fair consideration.

“There will be a lot of competing interests fighting for the same pot of money at a time when the pot is not very full,” he said. “I will be there on the committee to make sure that Troy University gets a fair shake and to protect our priorities in K-12 schools.”

At a time when the proverbial “money pot” is shrinking due to the ailing economy, it’s hard not to think about the inevitable result when state spending outpaces its income: proration.

So, when the committee meets this March, Taylor plans to incorporate the only solution that will work for warding off the tight grip of proration.

“The only way to eliminate proration is to budget responsibly in the first place,” Taylor said.

“To prevent proration, I am very interested in a proposal called rolling-reserve budgeting,” said Taylor, “Under this proposal, instead of basing budgets on wild guesses about future revenues, the budgets would be based on actual average revenue growth in prior years.”

Taylor explained the intricacies of rolling-reserve budgeting.

“For example, if state tax revenues grew at an average rate of 4.5 percent a year over the last 10 years, then this proposal would cap spending in the budget for next year at this year’s level plus 4.5 percent. If actual revenue growth next year exceeds 4.5 percent, the extra revenues would be set aside in a reserve account to help fund the budget in years when revenues fall short. It’s a way to make state budgets more predictable from year to year. Rolling-reserve budgeting would help prevent proration because it would stop the Legislature from over-promising funding for our schools and colleges based on wild guesses about tax revenues that won’t come in until next year,” Taylor said.

Marcus Paramore, Director of Government Relations for Troy University, acknowledged the importance for the state to continue to provide the necessary funds that four-year colleges and other educational institutions need in order to stay at the forefront of research and economic development.

“Four-year universities are considered an economic engine for the state, and right now Sen. Taylor is in a position to be of assistance to Troy University, Paramore said.

He anticipates great things to come of Taylor’s appointment.

“We’re very excited and appreciative of the fact that our own senator of our district is represented on the committee and we really look forward to his leadership, guidance and direction,” Paramore said.

The committee will begin meeting in March during the 2011 Regular Session to take up the education budget for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.