Governor Ivey proposes money for education be used to build new prison

Governor Kay Ivey proposes healthcare focused school
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Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 3:56 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Dollars meant for public education could be used to build a new prison. Part of Governor Kay Ivey’s budget proposal allocates at least $100 million from the education trust fund to complete the now billion-dollar prison in Elmore County.

The governor and state finance office confirmed this information in a statement saying, “The referenced funding would support the construction of only the education and vocational facilities at the planned 4,000 bed Elmore and 4,000 bed Escambia prison facilities. These funds would be restricted such that they could not be used for any purpose related to those projects beyond the construction and equipping of the education and vocational facilities. Prison education is presently funded through the education budget and is administered by the Alabama Community College System.”

“We believe it’s critical to have high-quality state of the art, educational and vocational facilities as a component of that construction effort that is consistent with prior investments out of education budget for prison education,” said state finance director Bill Poole during a budget presentation.

Chair of the senate’s education budget committee, Senator Arthur Orr, R- Limestone County, says this adds to the multiple options for how to use the surplus in the education budget.

The options include using the surplus to repeal the grocery tax, giving taxpayers a one-time tax rebate, and paying other investments.

“I certainly hear a lot from Birmingham, Southern individuals,” said Orr.

Orr also has priorities of his own.

“Very important to Chairman Garrett and me to have a savings account established,” he said. “And that was not in the governor’s proposal, but we’re very serious about that.”

Democratic Rep. Chris England, D- Tuscaloosa County, says this proves the construction is unsustainable.

“The irony of this already, of the school-to-prison pipeline that we’re that everybody always identifies, is now we’re using education money to help build a prison. I don’t think anything captures our problem more than that,” said England.

Lawmakers still have to approve the use of this money. They will return to the state house next Tuesday.

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