Alabama passes largest education budget in 10 years
- State lawmakers in Alabama have increased education spending for the next fiscal year by $216 million, making a $6.6 billion appropriation to K-12 districts, colleges and universities the largest since 2008.
- Alabama is known nationally for its pre-kindergarten programming, and the budget increases appropriations for the early learning initiative by 24%, or $18.5 million. Experts say it will allow schools to add a minimum of 100 additional classrooms and 1,400 students statewide. K-12 spending overall received a 3% increase to $146 million.
- Four-year colleges and universities will get a 4% increase totaling $42 million, while community colleges will receive a 5% increase totaling $18 million, all just ahead of mid-term elections.
It's not surprising that a state that made a major pivot in its political landscape through a U.S. Senate special election would use the momentum to support an area which typically has proven to be politically divisive. Alabama lawmakers are a largely conservative body which has, in recent years, been criticized for its cuts to education spending. But this year's session mirrors action from federal lawmakers who rejected executive spending recommendations to greenlight additional funding to education.
Education leaders and advocates could use this cultural shift as a blueprint for future lobbying efforts for educational spending. When paired with data about how well students perform with early learning access, or how communities grow when colleges and universities are allowed to expand through funding, education spending can be shown as to be a necessary investment for economic development, workforce development, and civic outcomes like home ownership and reduced poverty rates.