Though there are 218 separate expense notations in just the K-12 section of the FY 2014-15 Education Trust Fund budget, the one noting that the legislature gets $2,448,863 is not hard to find. It is the fifth notation on the first page.
And how is this money spent?
According to information on the Open.Alabama.gov website, it is being spent to pay for both in-state and out-of-state travel, mileage, lodging, meals and supplies.
As documented here by veteran reporter Bob Lowry for Inside Alabama Politics, from Oct l, 2014 to Sept. 3, 2015, legislators spent $225,083 of ETF money. (The majority was spent since June.)
The top five senators were: Gerald Allen-R, $6,697; Gerald Dial-R, $5,954; Cam Ward-R, $4,980; Tom Whatley-R, $3,532 and Linda Coleman-D, $3,397.
Top five house members were: Mac McCutcheon-R, $5,151; Victor Gaston-R, $3,040; April Weaver-R, $3,009; Lynn Greer-R, $2,976 and Alan Boothe-R, $2,760.
We’ve heard a lot lately from Rep. Ed Henry and Senator Phil Williams about a “surplus” in ETF. Henry got $1,331 and Williams got $2,060. Perhaps this is their way of depleting the surplus.
At a time when teachers across the state are scrambling for school supplies and superintendents are trying to figure out how to cover the cost of buses because the legislature refuses to properly fund transportation expenses, the irony in this situation is apparent.