Let’s Look Closer at the Education Trust Fund Budget….
By Trisha Powell Crain
The ETF budget will be discussed this week in the legislature. The Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget is where all the state money for K-12 education in Alabama comes from. Remember, school districts’ budgets are made up of state, federal and local money. The ETF is the state piece. Every year, the state legislature puts a budget together and then folks come from far and near (mostly near, in Montgomery) to stake their claim to some of the nearly-$6 billion that is doled out through this process. I am using the Governor’s recommended ETF budget for FY14 throughout this discussion. It is the only spreadsheet that is available that can be easily interpreted at this point. Here is the budget submitted by the House. Here is the budget submitted by the Senate.
There are a few facts that you need to know before we delve into the FY14 ETF budget. First, remember that FY means Fiscal Year, which runs from October 1 of one year to September 30 of the following year, which is the year for which the budget is named. So FY14 means the time period October 1, 2013, to September 30, 2014.
Second, and this really may be the most important thing to remember about budgets: A budget is a policy tool. Budgets show priorities for our state government. The Governor’s proposed spending for K-12 education accounts for 68.84% of the entire ETF budget. Nearly $6 billion. Spending for education is 51.16% of all state money (which includes the General Fund and all the other various funds where money is stored) for FY13. For K-12 alone, the percentage is 37.78% [Source: A Legislator's Guide to Alabama's Taxes 2013, p. 380.]
[Source: Presentation to Legislature on Alabama's Financial Condition, Legislative Fiscal Office, February 5, 2013]
Have you made your plan to participate in the AERA Rally?
After completing the required documentation with the State Capitol Police, I received approval for our Rally on Thursday, April 11, 2013. The rally will be conducted on the steps of the State House on the South Union Street entrance (main entrance). We will begin at 10:30 a.m. with brief comments and instructions for our members who will then go into the State House and visit their senators, followed by House of Representative members. Our focus during the visits with Senators and Representatives will be SB303 proposing changes to the TRS Board of Controls including removal of the AEA Executive Secretary position (more information to follow).
Since the rally was announced during our Annual Meeting, we are expecting a large turnout. AERA will pay each driver $30 to help offset the cost of gas to travel to Montgomery. However, Montgomery and surrounding counties will receive $20 towards gas. To help offset the rising cost of gas, I suggest that local units also provide a stipend for those traveling to Montgomery. AERA will provide a shuttle from the office to Patterson Field (city’s free parking area) on Madison Avenue. Boxed lunches and refreshments will be available at the state office.
In an effort to expedite the security process at the State House, a list of retirees traveling to Montgomery would be helpful. AERA would appreciate if members could let us know if they are planning to attend. Of course, I understand plans change and folks may not come who said they were, but having names and city of residence will help expedite security procedures. We are hoping to have several hundred participants. This list will also help the staff plan accordingly for lunches, etc.
We will have signs and stickers supporting our stance. However, the signs cannot be taken into the State House. Also, no knives of any size are allowed in the Capitol. You must leave them in your car or Veronica will hold them while you are at the rally – or they will be confiscated by the State Capitol Police Department.
MedGenRx has NO coverage gap or donut hole!
PEEHIP Participants recently received their EOB Letter (Explanation of Benefits). If you read the entire document, there was mention of a Gap or Donut Hole in coverage. This is a form letter and PEEHIP does not have a Gap or Donut. The article listed below will be in the upcoming issue of the RSA Advisor.
Retirement Systems of Alabama shows earnings growth
MONTGOMERY | The state employees’ pension fund had solid earnings on its investments for the past fiscal year, but the looming “fiscal cliff” in Washington threatens continued growth, the Retirement Systems of Alabama chief executive officer said Thursday.
David Bronner reported 18 percent earnings to the Employees Retirement Systems board on Wednesday. Next week, the RSA CEO said, he plans to report one-year growth of 18.3 percent to the Teachers Retirement System board.
The third component of the RSA, the Judicial Retirement System, had investment growth of 19 percent for the year ending Sept. 30, Bronner said.
“It just means that, in the case of the employee system, it grew by $1 billion,” Bronner said.“What it means is we did well this last year during the turmoil.”
Total Employees Retirement Systems contributions from the state, employees and investments is about $1.96 billion this year, Bronner said.
Subtract payments of $904 million, and the $9.2-billion Employees Retirement Systems net increase was about $1.058 billion.
He said since the growth rate is spread out over five years, it is still being affected by the 30 percent recession losses in 2008.
One of the RSA’s signature investments, a 53-story office building in Manhattan, was flooded in lower floors by Hurricane Sandy a month ago.
The building, known as 55 Water St., was to have reopened on Thursday, but a small fire on Thanksgiving Day and lack of sufficient operating elevators pushed back the re-opening date.
“The storm got it and got all of lower downtown and it’s been out of commission since,” Bronner said.
Recently AARP/AL Advocacy Volunteer Training was conducted. AERA member and chairman of the AERA Legislative Committee, Jack Bradford, also lends his time and talents to AARP Alabama. Also pictured with Jack Bradford is E.W. Phillips of Bessemer, Al (an AARP volunteer).