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27 April 2005

President Meehan's Statement Regarding the Pending State Education Budget

Several matters concerning the education budget now pending in the Alabama legislature need to be explained.

Higher education is seeking a $46 million supplemental appropriation, which makes up for a shortfall in this year's (the FY 2004-05) Education Trust Fund budget. These funds are for retirement and healthcare costs through PEEHIP.

Senator Jim Preuitt is our champion for seeking this appropriation. Higher education was promised these funds last year, to be provided as soon as monies became available in the Trust Fund. The Education Trust Fund carried over $300 million into this year's budget, which started October 1, 2004.

Some of our adversaries are saying higher education is being selfish when we are only asking for the money which was promised by legislative leaders last year.

Last year, we supported the needed expenditures in K-12 education, which went for textbooks, the Reading Initiative, and bus transportation for the public school systems. Our colleges and universities supported these much-needed programs at the expense of funds for higher education.

We believe this one-time funding is fulfillment of the promise made last year, and we want the public to know that we deeply appreciate the significant increase that Governor Bob Riley made in the 2006 budget request. This 11%-plus increase -- improved substantially by the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee -- made it possible for Jacksonville State University to not increase tuition for all undergraduates for the next school year. This matter is not over, as the budgets have not passed the legislature, but we feel comfortable with our increase.

We are deeply indebted to Senator Preuitt, who represents Calhoun and Talladega counties, and to all the other Senators and House Members who are supportive of our requested supplemental appropriation. We hope things will work out to higher education's and K-12's satisfaction in the remaining two weeks of the legislative session.


William A. Meehan, Ed.D

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