Ala. House committee approves Education Trust Fund budget



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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's second of two budgets made its way out of committee on Tuesday and will move on to the full House.

The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved the Education Trust Fund's nearly $6 billion budget for 2016.

Committee Chairman Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, said he expects the budget will be debated on the House floor Thursday.

"I think it's been very positive feedback at this point," he said. "I think that's reflected by the committee process to date. You've seen agreement among committee members. We've worked hard as a committee to craft this budget; it reflects the priorities that everybody has relative to getting dollars in the classroom and I certainly hope that it will have broad support on the House floor."

A substitute budget adopted by the committee would increase funding for the state's school transportation program by $4.5 million.

The committee also approved an amendment that would add around $1.2 million for career coaching. Poole says the funding is for a workforce development component "custom-tailored" to help children of multiple ages identify career opportunities.

The spending plan increases funding for the state's award-winning pre-kindergarten program by $10 million.

Any revisions made in the House will need to go back for approval in the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said he thinks the Senate will pass the ETF.

"I think we'll pass it, and I think we'll do that without concern for the general fund," Marsh said. "I think we want to get that one out of the way and focus on the general fund."

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Martin Swant

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