The 2021 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature officially began on Tuesday, February 2, 2021. As mandated by the Alabama Constitution, Governor Kay Ivey outlined her priorities for the session in her State of the State Address on the first evening of the session.
Traditionally, the Governor delivers her address to an audience of lawmakers and state leaders in the Old House Chamber of the Alabama State Capitol. However, much like many adjustments we’ve made due to COVID-19, Governor Ivey addressed the state from the Capitol Rotunda via digital livestream.
Education continued to be a priority for Governor Ivey. She noted that “few areas were more challenged in 2020 than our education system,” and emphasized the necessity of continuing with “what works.” Overall, the Governor is proposing a $440 million increase for education, bringing the total Education Trust Fund budget to over $7.6 billion. Click here to view the full budget recommendation.
Here are the highlights from her speech, all of which A+ Education Partnership strongly supports:
- 2% Pay Raise for Teachers: Governor Ivey is proposing a 2% pay raise for teachers as “a way to express the state’s gratitude to our teachers who rose to the challenge of unprecedented times.” This pay raise will cost approximately $80.5 million.
- Expand First Class Pre-K: Governor Ivey is proposing a $24.4 million dollar increase to fund Alabama’s nationally-recognized First Class Pre-K program that would address the 3,000 students on the waiting list and increase classroom capacity so that 44% of the state’s 4-year-olds will have access to the program. Currently, 37% of 4-year-olds are served.
- Solid Foundation in Early Reading and STEM Education: Governor Ivey is proposing a $20 million increase ($98 million total) in funding to support implementation of the Alabama Literacy Act, including continued training in the science of reading and summer reading camps. There is also continued investment in STEM education, including high-quality computer science courses.
- Summer and Afterschool Programs: As Governor Ivey said, “Catching up our students won’t happen overnight or during regular school hours. As such, I am urging all our schools to partner with community organizations in your local area; this will be more important than ever before to be innovative and create new opportunities for summer and afterschool programs.” A+ Education Partnership has developed a proposal for grant-funded community-based out-of-school programs. Read it here.
- Expanding Broadband Infrastructure: Governor Ivey stressed that her administration would be working to assist internet providers as they extend service to underserved communities. C-Spire has recently announced a $500 million investment that will extend fiber broadband access to 100,000 people and create over 250 jobs.
- Returning to the Classroom Safely: Finally, Governor Ivey stated, “I continue to believe that our students need to get back to the classroom as soon as possible. Across the board remote learning was always intended to be temporary. Take it from a former economics teacher, nothing replaces in-person instruction and, unfortunately, during COVID-19, many students have fallen behind.”
For more information on A+ Education Partnership’s priorities for the session, you can access our 2021 Legislative Playbook.
Additionally, the governor shared three of her most pressing economic priorities for her administration. She encouraged legislation ensuring the state will not tax CARES stimulus payments, the renewal of several economic development incentives to attract new businesses to the state, and the passage of legislation that would protect small businesses against lawsuits related to the pandemic. Other priorities included her prison reform plan, allowing Alabamians to vote on gambling, and the creation of three new mental health crisis centers in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile.
Keep Up With Us During the Legislative Session
As always, we will update you with more information as it comes available. Follow along with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We will also continue sending our weekly education news round-up, The Gist, every Friday morning with updates from the previous week. Click here to sign up. #EdInSession
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