Alabama’s education budget doesn’t have a surplus

Published 11:02 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A few days back, on a Saturday morning, I was killing a little time by scrolling through the Twitter feed when I stumbled upon an interesting exchange.
Mary Scott Hunter, a member of the state school board, and state Sens. Phil Williams and Will Ainsworth – all three Republicans – are going back and forth over a proposal that some Republicans in the Alabama Legislature are pushing.
One that would steal $250 million from public education.
The theory that is being used to support this lunacy is that the education trust fund has money to spare, because it has a reserve fund that actually has money in it. The reason it has money is because these same GOP lawmakers thought it was important to set up a fund that would safeguard against lean financial years.
So, they implemented the rolling reserve act, which created spending caps and set up reserve accounts that required the state to save some money in case of down times and also to make school improvements.
After a few decent economic years, there is money in the reserve fund.
But pretending like there’s an overflow of cash in that account is misguided, because public school funding in Alabama is still down some 20 percent since 2008. Teachers have seen one raise in the last eight years. Transportation still isn’t fully funded by the state. Textbooks are still a major issue for some districts.
So, when Hunter noticed a story stating that Alabama’s education trust fund budget had an excess of money and that lawmakers were pushing the idea of robbing that fund to cover the general fund’s $250 million hole, she took issue.
“There is no ‘large’ excess in the two ETF budgets I know best: K-12 and community colleges,” Hunter tweeted.
To which Williams replied: “No. You don’t know best. Never saw you in a budget meeting. Surplus is real and better than taxes.”
Yeah, he’s sweet.
Online– Montgomery Advertiser

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