The people's voice of reason

Today is the last day of the 2024 regular session

The Alabama Senate recently passed a $9.3 billion education trust fund budget (ETF) which includes teacher pay raises and increased funding. It is the largest education budget in the history of the state. The Senate and the House still have to deal with changes that the Senate made to the budget. That is by far the biggest item of business left on the Legislature's agenda.

Today, Thursday May 9 will be the last day of the 2024 Alabama regular Legislative Session as there are a maximum of 30 days allowed for a regular session in the state constitution of 1901 and the Legislature has used all 30 of theirs.

The education budget and the supplemental appropriation are sponsored by State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) who chairs the House Ways and Means Education Committee. They are carried in the Senate by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), chair of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee.

The Senate budget is $9,348,506,169 – an increase of $549,912,128 over last year.

K-12 schools will receive $6,365,972,327, an increase of $376,760,340.

Higher education will receive $2,397,664,702, and increase of $140,695,664 over 2024.

There are a number of state agencies funded at least partly through the Education Trust Fund, including the Legislature itself. That spending amount is $584,869,140 an increase of $32,456,124 over 2024.

A record state general fund budget (SGF) has already passed and gone to the governor.

Gambling passed both Houses of the Legislature but in different formats. Bickering between the Houses and the different gambling interests in the state ultimately made getting a gambling deal accomplished virtually impossible. There is a slight possibility that the Legislature could change its mind and pass a gambling bill, but all our sources are saying that is not going to happen at this point.

An ambitious effort to rewrite all of the state's ethics law ultimately failed after Alabama Ethics Commission Director Tom Albritton and Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) stated their opposition to the proposal.

An effort to pass post election audits was defeated on the floor of the Senate on Thursday. That won't be happening. The Legislature did pass a ban on ballot harvesting, but that is being challenged in the courts.

An effort to deal with the medical marijuana issue failed with Legislators ultimately choosing to leave it to the courts to decide. The state has lost $millions in legal fees defending itself against the various business groups who are trying to overturn license awards.

There are 35 bills on the Senate calendar alone. Not all of those are likely to pass. Issues not addressed the Legislature and signed by the Governor will be considered in the 2025 Legislative session.

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