Give teacher raises based on revenue, not projections
The Alabama Education Association's Paul Hubbert wants 7 percent pay raises for teachers, support employees and retirees, which they deserve even if the state can't afford the increase.
The extra money flowing into the Education Trust Fund certainly makes some amount of increase possible this year. The 9.5 percent growth last year and the 7 percent increase in the first quarter of this fiscal year give legislators an opportunity to base a more solid budget on actual instead of projected income.
Mr. Hubbert makes a strong case for the 7 percent increase because the Legislature passed teachers over the last two years during the funding crisis.
He said the 7 percent would average less than 3 percent a year increase.
The point, however, is for legislators to decide if they want to base an increase on the actual revenue from sales and income taxes or follow the old method of using projections.
Gov. Bob Riley favors budgeting on the last year's revenues. Former Gov. Don Siegelman considered that approach until Mr. Hubbert convinced him his AEA people would suffer under such budgeting.
Senate President Pro Tem Lowell Barron is in no hurry to commit to his long-time AEA ally. He says he thinks teachers will get a raise, but he is unwilling to say how much it will be.
Basing the General Fund and Education Trust Fund on actual revenue from the preceding year is no magic solution to funding shortages. But having a realistic basis on which legislators build budgets is more logical than studying the tea leaves to raise false and unrealistic expectations.