House Passes Education Budget Without Teacher Pay Raise
The latest education budget has just passed in the House of Representatives.
But it's still missing one of the governor's top priorities.
There were hours of debate, but representatives didn't have a chance to introduce amendments to add that two percent pay raise the governor was looking for.
Before lawmakers could even start debate on the budget, current and retired teachers took over the steps of the state house to show their support for a pay raise.
Alabama Educators Association executive secretary Henry Mabry says teachers have waited too long.
"Educators haven't received a pay raise since 2007. This raise in the budget is affordable. Governor Bentley put it in his budget, he said it was affordable. He said the money was there for the two percent pay raise," said Mabry.
And Governor Bentley still thinks that the money is there, not only for the raise, but also for full funding of teachers' healthcare, known as PEEHIP.
"We worked a lot longer on this budget than the legislature has. We found ways that we could get a two percent pay raise and we also found ways we could fully fund PEEHIP up to the amount the board asked. You have to make a decision on where you want to spend the money," said Governor Bentley.
Even though the raise didn't make it into the budget, State Representative Greg Wren says there are funds that will focus on students.
"The most important thing was trying to push through a nearly 6 billion dollar education budget for the school children. I think we made some significant headway on the house passed version. You know, current expenses are going to be increased, more textbook money which is great and an increase in teacher units across the state. These are going to help the students in the classroom which was our top priority," said Wren.
The budget now goes to the senate. They'll set up a joint committee of both senators and representatives to work out the differences in between the budgets both houses passed.
There are only five more meeting days for lawmakers to pass both budgets.