Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed state Senate Bill 193 that will allocate $280 million for this fiscal year from the state’s Advancement and Technology Fund to spend on improvements to classroom technology and infrastructure.
“Investing in Alabama’s students in a productive way is investing in our future,” Ivey said in a press release. “It is critical, now more than ever, to find ways to improve our students’ learning journeys, and I am proud to officially put pen to paper on Senate Bill 193 to put funds into much-needed projects in our schools. As long as I am your governor, putting a greater emphasis on our schools will be a top priority.”
The fund was created by legislation – the Rolling Reserve Act – that was signed into law more than a decade ago. The legislation requires the state to save a portion of education revenues each year, and then tasks the state legislature to appropriate money to both K-12 and higher education each year for eligible non-recurring expenses.
Under the bill Gov. Ivey signed, K-12 schools will receive $206 million and the state’s community colleges, colleges, and universities will receive $76 million. According to Ivey’s office, the funding can be used for education technology and equipment, repairs and deferred maintenance, classroom instruction support, and school security.
The Senate bill was sponsored by a bipartisan group, including Democrat Senator William Beasley and Republican Senators Arthur Orr, Greg Albritton, Gerald Allen, Tom Butler, Jimmy Holley, Steve Livingston, Tim Melson, Greg Reed, Dan Roberts, Larry Stutts, J.T. Waggoner, and Jack Williams.
As with most states, Alabama is facing budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to FY2021 education revenue and spending, the state says there won’t be significant deposits into the fund ahead of FY2022. Because of that, the legislation splits the current revenue between FY2021 and FY2022.
“The Advancement and Technology Fund is not a reliable revenue stream for schools and colleges,” said Sen. Orr. “And we did not want to go from a couple hundred million one year to $0, and that’s what we were looking at in 2022.”
The funding plan in the bill “gives us a cushion in fiscal 2022 if needed,” Orr said. “If the virus rears its ugly head again in the fall or winter, having that Advancement and Technology Fund to shore up the budget if we needed to gives us a lot more flexibility.”