Education funding OK’d

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Education in the state got a boost from the Alabama Legislature as it rolls toward the end of its session this week.

The Senate finally took some action Tuesday, approving bills that have already been OK’d in the House. They will now go to Gov. Bob Riley, who will sign them into law.

As reported by the Associated Press, the bills passed include:

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A 7 percent boost starting Oct. 1 for education employees.

Providing retired education employees and state workers with a pension bonus of $1 per month for each year of service. For a person who worked 25 years, the bonus will be $300.

A record $6.7 billion education budget that will provide a nearly 12 percent increase for K-12 schools and two-year colleges and 15 percent for universities.

Funding for distance learning programs that allow a teacher in one location to teach classes in several schools. Riley has emphasized the importance of such programs, making a visit recently to Dallas County High School to tout the technology. The Senate-passed budget would double the funding for distance learning programs in public schools to $20 million, but that’s $5 million short of what Riley sought.

The budget would also increase the budget for the state’s Math, Science and Technology Initiative by two-thirds, from $22 million to $35.8 million.

There’s still a few more items of business facing the Legislature, but passing these education bills -along with other General Fund expenditures – will probably keep the Legislature from going into a summer session. And that’s good news for taxpayers.