Alabama House Begins Education Budget Debate

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Montgomery, Ala.

The Alabama House of Representatives narrowly approved an education budget that divided lawmakers over the lack of a teacher pay raise.

Representatives approved the $5.9 billion budget in a 51-47 vote.

Tuscaloosa Republican Rep. Bill Poole says the plan puts more money toward insurance. He says that should help avoid large premium increases for current and retired education employees. Poole argued that was the best use of limited funds.

Democrats contended teachers deserve a raise after going several years without one.

Senate budget chairman, Trip Pittman, says the budget will likely go to a conference committee.

More than 100 retired education employees rallied outside the Statehouse ahead of the vote.

Alabama Education Association Executive Secretary Henry Mabry told the group that they will make their voices heard in upcoming elections.