Legislatures should not hold budget hostage

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Education Budget of Alabama is being held hostage, according to Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma).

A ploy that would give the universities across the state an additional $46 million could possibly bring the budgeting process to a halt.

The bad news if this happens is that teachers will lose their jobs. Because school boards are required by law to make personnel decisions before the end of the school year, not having a passed budget by May 16 would result in layoffs for teachers and other faculty members, and put off making purchases the school systems need state money for.

Those opposing the budget claim that because the universities now have to pay the full cost of their retirees, who went on Public Education Employee Health Insurance Program (PEEHIP) rolls after retirement, more money is needed.

They claim that higher education has not been given its fair share over the years when compared to that of K-12.

It makes sense to spread the money in a logical manner, but there should be accountability with government funding.

Where is the accountability in higher education?

K-12 could arguably be the most accountable of all the states institutions. Tracking for students takes place by test scores. Teachers are given background checks and parents have open door policies with most of the schools supervisors.

It would be nice to provide the funding that higher education requests, but taking away from K-12 is not the answer.

The result of not passing the budget, which will be loss of teachers, will eventually lead to declines in higher education and thus funding from the universities tuitions. When children are not being educated at the early stages of the learning curve, the desire to seek higher education diminishes.

We agree that higher education deserves its slice of the pie, but if we can’t provide knowledge for our younger students then how can we expect them to make it to the next level?

The answer for our children is not holding the budget hostage, rather it is passing it and doing so before it is too late.