Speaker Mac McCutcheon has appointed a new House standing committee on Fiscal Responsibility. In making the announcement, he said the committee “is tasked with giving taxpayers the maximum return on dollars they send to Montgomery.”
I hope the committee will also consider dollars NOT sent to Montgomery. In other words, tax breaks that shortchange public education. And the biggest offender is the Alabama Accountability Act.
Since being rushed through the legislature in 2013, AAA has diverted at least $74 million from the Education Trust Fund to fund vouchers used to send students to private schools.
Here’s how it works. Company A gives $5 million to a scholarship granting organization (SGO) and fill out paperwork with the Alabama Department of Revenue that allows them to count this as $5 million paid against their state tax liability. Which means these dollars never get to the Education Trust Fund.
(Technically this money was never in the possession of the state, which gets us around the prohibition of using public money for private schools.)
AAA has been very controversial from the beginning. Click on “Accountability Act” on the right menu of this page and you will find more than 50 articles.) It was initially sold under the guise of “helping poor children stuck in struggling schools by their zip code.” This was never the truth.
In 2016 the University of Alabama did a report that concluded that students receiving vouchers under AAA did not outperform their cohorts in public schools.
And if ever a piece of legislation needs a long, hard look at what it does–and does not–do, this is it.
Representative Chris Pringle of Mobile chairs this committee. Other members are: Rod Scott of Fairfield; Reed Ingram of Montgomery; Chris Sells of Greenville; Matt Fridy of Montevallo; Danny Garrett of Trussville; Corley Ellis of Columbiana; A. J. McCampbell of Livingston and Patricia Todd of Birmingham.
I have written each of them, plus the Speaker, encouraging them to examine AAA. I encourage you to as well.
Speaker Mac McCutcheon–firstname.lastname@example.org
A. J. McCampbell–email@example.com