An Alabama Senate committee approved an education budget that reduces funding for public schools and universities, cuts teaching jobs and enlarges class sizes for the 2012-2013 school year.
The budget, approved unanimously by the Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee, is a redesigned version of the budget that Gov. Robert Bentley recommended to the Legislature in February. It was the Legislature's first action on the budget.
"It's lean, but we're maintaining the critical and essential parts of education in this state," the committee chairman, Republican Sen. Trip Pittman of Daphne said.
The committee's budget discussion was different from past years because no one talked about wasteful spending or making schools more efficient.
"When you look at the budget, you realize how well managed Alabama is," Pittman told the committee.
The $5.5 billion budget is about $150 million, or 2.7 percent, smaller than this year budget.
State fiscal experts anticipate the state revenue available for the next school year will be about the same as this year, but next year's budget will have to be smaller because of a law the Legislature passed last year. The "rolling reserve" law keeps the Legislature from spending all available money in order to build a reserve.
The committee's budget spends more on K-12 schools than the Republican governor recommended and less on two-year college and universities than he proposed. With the changes, K-12 schools would get 1.6 percent less than this year, two-year colleges 5.1 percent less, and universities 4.8 percent less than this year.