- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Most public school teachers would get a 4 percent pay raise under a budget approved Thursday by the House Ways and Means Education Committee.

The $6.3 billion Education Trust Fund budget and accompanying pay raise were approved by the committee after a debate about a higher raise to teachers. The full House of Representatives could debate the budget next week.

“I think this budget is an investment in our future, in our children, in our education employees, our workforce and economy and, consequently, our future prosperity,” said Committee Chairman Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa.

The 4 percent raise would go to teachers making less than $75,000 annually. Others would get a 2 percent raise.

Susan Kennedy of the Alabama Education Association told committee members that education employees were grateful for the raise but also said inflation and health insurance costs had chipped away at the salaries and the pocketbooks of teachers.

Democrats on the committee unsuccessfully pushed to boost the raise to 5 percent.

The budget would also provide money to hire an additional 475 teachers in middle schools and high schools.

The budget would also steer an additional $14 million to the state’s lauded, but small, pre-K program.

Gov. Robert Bentley has made it a goal to expand funded to the program so all 4-year-olds have an opportunity to attend.

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