Alabama Supreme Court returns education to equal cuts
MONTGOMERY, Ala. June 29, 2001 (AP) -- The Alabama Supreme Court stopped Gov. Don
Siegelman from taking bigger education budget cuts out of colleges
than from K-12 schools.
In a decision Friday, the state's highest court said state law provides for all segments of education to be cut equally when state tax collections fall below expectations.
The ruling was a win for universities, which had challenged the unequal cuts, and was a defeat for city and county school boards.
On Feb. 2, Siegelman ordered state education spending cut, or prorated, by $266 million because the economic downturn had reduced tax collections. He initially implemented the reduction by ordering all facets of education cut 6.2 percent across the board.
Later, based on a Montgomery judge's decision and an advisory opinion of Attorney General Bill Pryor, the governor ordered no cuts in the money allocated for the salaries of K-12 teachers. Siegelman said a 1995 state law had shielded those salaries from cuts. The result was the total allocation for K-12 schools was cut 3.7 percent and higher education was sliced by 11.1 percent.
Universities appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.
SUMMARY OF DECISION
-- The trial court's April order exempting K-12 salaries from proration is reversed.
-- The Supreme Court presumes the Governor will now restore proration in occordance with his order on Feb. 2, viz., 6.2 percent across-the-board.
-- The Attorney General's opinion is declared to be incorrect.
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