published Monday, November 25th, 2013

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has sights set on teacher raises, pre-K funding

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Gov. Robert Bentley says pay raises for teachers and funding for pre-kindergarten programs will be among his highest priorities during the next legislative session.

Bentley would like to include raises for teachers in the 2015 budget and help them replace some of what he's "asked them to sacrifice," he told The Decatur Daily. He didn't offer a specific number.

"We will have more money. Not a lot more, but we will have more money in the education appropriations," Bentley said. "Our general fund is still going to be tight, but it will be every year."

Teachers received a 2 percent raise for 2014, and Bentley this year reinstated merit raises for eligible state employees. Those raises can be up to 5 percent. Teachers and government workers had not seen merit or cost-of-living raises since 2008.

Aside from teacher raises and funding for pre-kindergarten programs, Bentley says he also wants to expand workforce training initiatives.

"To get jobs in Alabama, we have to have skilled workers," he said.

He also wants legislation that would give flexibility to state officials looking to offer incentives to businesses that are already operating in Alabama. Bentley has said state officials can give tax incentives and other deals to companies looking to begin doing business in the state, but can't give any benefits to existing businesses or those looking to relocate.

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