AL House Committee approves education budget without pay raise f - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

AL House Committee approves education budget without pay raise for teachers

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The House version of the Education Trust Fund includes an extra $48 million for teachers' health insurance compared to the Senate budget. That decision came at the expense of a 2% pay raise that the governor had called for, as well as a one-time 1% bonus the Alabama Senate approved.   

"We just don't have the revenue to pay for everything" Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa said. 

Poole chairs the House Ways and Means Education Committee. 

"I think that this is a responsible budget."

The spending plan is $5.9 billion overall and includes extra cash for textbooks, school supplies, and transportation. The Department of Education had urged the legislature to provide additional funding to hire more middle school teachers. The committee approved budget includes   funding to hire a 400 new teacher units at the middle school level across the state.

Democrats were vocal with their frustration in the education budget.

"I think this is a travesty that this doesn't include a raise" House Minority Leader Craig Ford said. 

Ford attempted to provide teachers and retirees with a 4% raise but the Republican dominated committee voted down his amendment with concerns over keeping the budget balance and below a spending cap. 

Governor Robert Bentley's budget included a 2% raise for all teachers and Postsecondary employees as well as full funding for PEEHIP, the Public Education Employees Health Insurance Program. He tweeted last week that any budget that doesn't include those two items would be met with a veto. 

Compared to the Governor's budget, Rep. Poole called the committee approved budget "responsible."

Democrats both praised and criticized the Governor's budget, saying they were pleased he included the raise for teachers but also added that his budget went around the spending cap that he signed into law in 2011. 

The House of Representatives could debate the entire education budget as early as next Tuesday.  

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