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Gov. Bob Riley delivers his State of the State address at the Capitol in Montgomery.
AP photo by Rob Carr
Gov. Bob Riley delivers his State of the State address at the Capitol in Montgomery.

Budget doesn't include raise for state employees

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Bob Riley proposed record budgets for education and state services Tuesday that would give a 7 percent raise to teachers, but include no money to increase the pay of state employees.

Riley sent a proposed $1.8 billion General Fund budget and a $6.6 billion education spending plan to the Legislature on Tuesday, the first day of the 2007 regular session of the Legislature.

State Finance Director Jim Main said tax revenues for the General Fund budget showed little growth over the past year and that funds could not be found to give state employees a pay increase.

"We would like to see state employees get a pay raise, but we couldn't find a recurring source of revenue to support it," Main said. He said if lawmakers can find a source to pay for a raise, the governor would support it.

The executive director of the Alabama State Employees Association, Mac McArthur, said he would work with the Legislature to find money for a pay hike.

"I believe a pay raise will happen," McArthur said. He said he appreciated remarks Riley made in recent days praising state employees for the work they do, including what was done following last week's tornado in Enterprise.

"To compliment what they did in Enterprise and then leave them out of the budget is short sighted and a slap in the face," McArthur said.

Main said tax revenues that fund the education budget — primarily income and sales taxes — have continued to grow and there was enough money available to fund a 7 percent pay increase for teachers, and pay for funding all programs requested by state school board. Main said the budget also factors in a loss of $53 million in tax revenue if the Legislature passes Riley's proposed tax cut for Alabama residents making less than $100,000 a year.

"I think the education revenue is amazing and it's putting us where we need to be headed to have a world class education system," Main said.

The education budget increases funding for the Alabama Reading Initiative to have all Alabama public school students reading at grade level and a similar initiative for teaching math and science.

The budget also includes $750,000 for a pilot program to determine whether state school buses should be equipped with seat belts.

Main said the education budget has gone from $4.2 billion to $6.6 billion in four years.

The General Fund budget proposed by Riley is about $100 million more than last year's spending plan, but much of that increase is being spent to fund the increased cost of Medicaid.

The General Fund budget does include funding to hire 100 new state troopers and to improve service at driver's license offices across the state.

It also includes additional funding for screening women for breast and cervical cancer and for children's health insurance.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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