Senate committee votes for bonus, not pay raise, for state’s teachers

Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, the chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education committee, said he appreciated the work of teachers but felt a two percent raise was not sustainable.  (Advertiser file)

Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, the chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education committee, said he appreciated the work of teachers but felt a two percent raise was not sustainable. (Advertiser file)

A Senate committee Wednesday morning approved a 2015 education budget that includes a one percent bonus for teachers and education employees; funding to hire 250 new middle school teachers and increases to helps districts fund transportation and daily operation needs.

The budget, which still needs approval from the full Senate, represents a step back from a two percent raise that Gov. Robert Bentley had sought, and the 450 additional teachers that the Alabama Department of Education wanted for seventh and eighth graders. Senate Finance and Taxation Education committee chairman Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, said he was concerned about “economic headwinds” that might reduce the revenue available for the state’s Education Trust Fund.

“The budget before us has been a tremendous challenge, the biggest challenge I’ve faced as ETF chairman,” Pittman said. “The reason for that is the economy has remained stagnant and has not rebounded.”

Pittman’s move had broad support from Republicans on the committee, who cited the need to have sustainable pay raises for teachers. Democrats, however, were sharply critical of the move.

“These teachers are treated like nothing when it comes to paying them,” said Senate Minority Leader Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile. “For us to give these tax exemptions to these corporations making millions and billions and not paying us (revenues) . . . I think we need to get our priorities in order.”

The budget also includes a major alteration to Alabama State University’s funding. Under the proposal, ASU’s funding for 2015 would be cut by $10.8 million, nearly 26 percent, over this year’s budget. The ETF would include a $10 million first conditional priority, the release of which would be up to Bentley, who has clashed with the university’s Board of Trustees over investigations into allegations of fraud and waste at the school.

A message left with Bentley’s office was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

The Alabama Department of Edcuation has sought increases for funding for transportation and daily expenses of local schools, along with additional funding for middle school teachers. In his State of the State address on Jan. 14, Gov. Robert Bentley called for a two percent across-the-board salary increase for teachers and support personnel, along with a $10 million increase for pre-kindergarten programs.

The $10 million increase for pre-kindgergarten remains in the budget; the Alabama School Readiness Alliance estimates the increase could extend the state’s nationally-recognized program to 1,800 four-year-olds in the state.

Teachers and support personnel received a two percent raise in this year’s ETF. An attempt by committee Democrats to put a six percent raise in the budget was tabled on party lines.

Bentley’s budget also included $92 million in spending outside the Rolling Reserve cap, which limits annual ETF growth based on a 15-year growth average. The committee’s budget includes $16.3 million in spending above the cap, which Pittman said would be directed toward the PACT program.

10 thoughts on “Senate committee votes for bonus, not pay raise, for state’s teachers

  1. I am so disgusted by the behavior and decisions of our elected officials that continue to make bad decisions in regards to the educators in our state. They take from the teachers and schools because it is easy and no one stops them. They know nothing of what it takes to be an educators and do not know what it is like to walk a mile in our shoes. They do not know what it is like to have your job performance judges by factors over which you have no control. They don’t know what it’s like to try to teach children who’s parents are in jail and have no food to eat. WE go buy them clothes from our own pockets, WE buy them food from our own pockets, WE furnish our classrooms from our own pockets, WE work and think about our classrooms and our children 24 hours a day. WE face the angry parents that blame us for their children’s bad behaviors and failure to complete assignments. WE get the blame for test scores that do not reflect how much our students know. WE become the scape goats and the dirty words while the politicians pad their pocket, play golf, and give big companies tax breaks. WE are tired of getting the blame. WE are tired of not being valued for our worth.

      • AMEN AND AMEN… The ONLY reason they are giving the 1% is because they think this will make us forget about all of the injustices they have done these past years since the “super majority”. Well, I will NOT forget…the 7.5% pay cut, no raises in 7 years, the fact you give all of the companies tax breaks at the expense of schools, the money taken out of the ETF that sent YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE TO PARIS, the money you STOLE from the ETF to pad your pockets in the guise of “ACCOUNTABILITY”..WELL GUESS WHAT… The chickens have come home to roost and YOU will be held accountable for YOUR IRRESPONSIBLE ACTIONS! YES…THIS EDUCATOR IS ANGRY….

    • Why would the Republicans care? I would like to see statistics where all state lawmakers send their children to school. Public, Private or Homeschooled.

    • I have to agree. We not only provide food for our students , but we provide food for the entire family. It’s sad that they don’t see what we see ever day, and they are not a bit concerned. That one percent bonus they are talking about is slap in our faces. If you have children please advise them not to major in education, if they do they need to leave the state of Alabama. Our Republican politicians in Alabama are a JOKE. Most of them are idiots. I wonder of many of them have GOD in their hearts.

  2. My emotions go from mad to sad. Cannot believe the nerve of these jerks. I am not a teacher but my Grandmother and many of my relatives are or were teachers. I know how hard they and the problems they run into with shortage of funding. I know republicans for the most part don’t think public education is important but I beg to differ. I hope that everyone remembers when elections roll around. God bless Teachers.

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