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Governor Bentley Wants Unified Education, General Fund Budget

Governor Robert Bentley has said he plans to ask the Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment combining the state’s two budgets and allowing some money now allocated for education to be spent on state agencies. Bentley said Alabama should have a unified budget like 47 other states, but not all of the tax revenue set aside for education must be made available for other uses.

House and Senate leaders say they agree with the governor and that more flexibility is needed in the budget process. They also agree that ample revenue for education must be maintained. The new head of the Alabama Education Association, Dr. Henry Mabry, said there is no way the governor can keep his promises to the schoolchildren if he goes ahead with his plan. According to Mabry, the governor’s plan will result in fewer teachers, large class sizes and possibly a shorter school year. The teachers’ lobby has traditionally opposed any plans to repeal laws setting aside taxes for education. Should the Legislature approve the governor’s proposed constitutional amendment, it would have to be approved by the voters in a statewide referendum.

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