With this legislative session winding down and with little meaningful action in regards to solving the General Fund dilemma, various trial balloons are being sent off into the wild blue yonder by Senators and Representatives. (Of course talk is cheap at the end of a session when chances of getting a bill passed are slim and none.)
One notion is to combine the Education Trust Fund and General Fund into one since some are working hard to spread the myth that the ETF has enough “surplus” to get the General Fund out of the ditch. Such proponents never mention that ETF has been drastically underfunded since FY 2008 and that funding obligations have been ignored by the legislature. For example, the state is supposed to fully fund local school system’s cost of transportation, but haven’t come close to doing so. Call any superintendent of a rural system and ask them how their budget has been impacted by reduced funding to run school buses.
Amazingly, just every now and then a voice of reason is heard on such matters. This time it is an editorial in the Times-Daily from Florence.
The paper states that will a unified budget makes sense if you have a legislature the people can trust to do what is right. However, they quickly add, “It turns out Alabama is not blessed with an ideal Legislature.”
They go on to explain the track record of our current group of House and Senate members in supporting public education is woeful.
“With alarming regularity, however, legislators without expertise in education undertake to supervise public schools. They have created a charter school system, drained public-school funding to finance private schools,,,are threatening to disband the elected state board of education…resent the board’s authority over Alabama’s education system…giving the Legislature complete discretion over education funding would be akin to giving the fox the job of guarding the hen house”
These words of wisdom from the Times-Daily should be spread far and wide.