Consider that a positive development. In years past, overly optimistic budgeting by a Democratic-controlled state Legislature often had to be scaled back when revenue failed to match expectations. School administrators had to find ways to cut programs they had started and had expected to be adequately funded. The ensuing budgetary havoc hurt the schools and, more important, hurt the students.
It is welcome news that schools, for now, will be safe from this sort of financial reversal.
It’s not unexpected that leaders of the Republican-controlled state Legislature are proudly touting this accomplishment. Taking a shot at the Democrats, Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, has boasted that “Republicans have made the tough, common-sense decisions necessary to ensure that we are living within our means.”
However, rather than seek ways to enhance the “means” in which the schools must live, Alabama’s GOP legislators have cut the state education budgets while offering schemes like the misnamed Alabama Accountability Act that would take even more money from the public schools. To say, as Poole did, that the Republican approach enabled the state to continue “to fund essential and innovative programs (while) keeping on the path to improve Alabama’s public education system” will be hard to justify in a state where Republicans and Democrats have underfunded schools for years.
There is little to suggest that Republican policies are going to improve the funding of Alabama schools. So the burden of proration is lifted for the coming year, which is good news because there was hardly anything there to cut. And that, in reality, is the worst news of all.