State education leader: Fund diversion possible strategy by senator

State education leader: Fund diversion possible strategy by senator

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Senate President Pro-Tem Del Marsh says Alabama can afford to shift money from the Education Trust Fund to aid in the state's budget crisis - claiming it is running at a surplus of a half-billion dollars.

However, Mary Scott Hunter, who represents District 8 with the Alabama State Board of Education, disagrees, saying education has never been fully funded in Alabama.

Educators are anxious as they watch the special session unfold in Montgomery, after hearing different plans which would shift as much as $225-million in funds from the Education Trust Fund to the state's General Fund.

Hunter says moving the money from the education fund would hurt a system that is already one of the lowest-ranked of the nation.

"This isn't a fix. It might fix the General Fund, but it most certainly will break the Education Trust Fund," she said.

Hunter said proposing a raid of the ETF may be a strategy on the part of Marsh. She says, by bringing up the possibility of shifting education dollars into the General Fund, lawmakers and all Alabamians might be more receptive to controversial revenue sources such as the lottery and the expansion of gaming by the Poarch Creek Indians.

Even so, Hunter said Alabama simply cannot afford to lose any money. Funding per Alabama student has actually gone down an average of nearly $400 during the past eight years.

Hunter said the current average in Alabama per student is about $5,200.

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