Alabama Accountability Act

House Speaker Mike Hubbard is urging the Alabama Senate to approve an austere budget before addressing any short- or long-term revenue bills.

Hubbard said Thursday taking action too quickly could have "unintended consequences."

The House passed the state's general fund budget with $200 million in cuts earlier this month.

Gov. Robert Bentley sought $541 million in new taxes this year and has threatened to veto any budget that includes cuts to the state's $1.88 billion budget.

Committee members throughout the Alabama Legislature have a busy day ahead of them.

The Senate Education Committee will hold a public hearing this morning on a bill aiming to repeal the Common Core curriculum standards.

The House Ways and Means Education Committee will also consider changes to the Alabama Accountability Act, a state program that provides scholarships to help some families pay for private school.

Yesterday was a busy day in the Alabama Senate. Two bills passed the Senate floor and are on their way to be heard in the House of Representatives.

The first is a bill that looks to change how Alabama recruits businesses and industry. The Alabama Jobs Act would create a pay-as-you-go model for incentives like tax breaks that the state uses to recruit companies.

Under the old model, the state would provide millions of dollars of funding up-front. This bill will allow Alabama to peg those incentives to the companies' performance.

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The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld a state program that gives tax credits to help families pay for private school.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the law does not violate restrictions on giving funds to private, religious schools because the money goes to parents.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says in a news release this afternoon “The Supreme Court’s ruling makes it crystal clear that Alabama parents have the right to school choice in seeking the best education for their children.”

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The Alabama Supreme Court has heard arguments on the constitutionality of a law that gives low-income families tax credits to pay for private school.

A lawyer representing individuals challenging the Alabama Accountability Act said Wednesday that it does an end run on Alabama's prohibition of using education funds to support private religious schools.

However, a lawyer representing families using the credits said it supports parents seeking education opportunities for their children, not private schools.

The Birmingham News File

The Alabama Supreme Court has heard arguments on the constitutionality of a law that gives low-income families tax credits to pay for private school.

   A lawyer representing individuals challenging the Alabama Accountability Act said Wednesday that it does an end run on Alabama's prohibition of using education funds to support private religious schools.

   However, a lawyer representing families using the credits said it supports parents seeking education opportunities for their children, not private schools.

The Birmingham News file

The Alabama Supreme Court will hear arguments Dec. 3 on the state government's appeal of a judge's ruling striking down the Alabama Accountability Act.

The case is third on the court's docket for a hearing that starts at 9 a.m. in Montgomery.

The Accountability Act provides state tax credits for parents to move children from public schools rated as failing to private schools. It also provides tax credits for individuals and businesses that contribute to scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools rather than public schools.

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An organization headed by former Gov. Bob Riley has awarded nearly 1,500 scholarships for students to attend private schools rather than failing public schools.

The Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund released enrollment figures Monday, as well as an audit report saying none of its board members, including Riley, received any money.

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State tax officials say some parents wrongly claimed tax credits under the new Alabama Accountability Act and are being asked to return it.

State Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee and Deputy Commissioner Curtis Stewart say the department's review is ongoing and it's too early to say how many will be asked to return their refunds or pay additional taxes.

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Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne is pushing for changes to education in Alabama that he says will make the system work better.  He says in speaking with school superintendents in the Mobile area, one thing he’s hearing a lot is that the federal government is at times making the jobs of educators' lives harder.

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A report by the Alabama Revenue Department shows scholarship granting organizations raised nearly $24.8 million in tax-deductible donations through the Alabama Accountability Act, but granted only nine scholarships in their first semester.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center is taking its legal challenge of the Alabama Accountability Act to a federal appeals court.

The Montgomery-based group has asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review a federal judge's decision rejecting the law center's challenge of the state law.

An Alabama judge will delay enforcing his decision outlawing tax credits for private school students in Alabama.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Gene Reese issued a hand-written order Monday agreeing to delay implementation of his ruling against the Republican-based Alabama Accountability Act.

The judge agreed with the state to block his order, meaning the tax credit program can go ahead while appeals courts consider the issue.

The law allows state tax credits for parents who move their children from failing public schools to private schools.

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A Montgomery judge has struck down Alabama's tax credits for parents who move their children from failing public schools to private schools.

Circuit Judge Gene Reese ruled Wednesday that the Alabama Accountability Act is unconstitutional. He said it violates the state Constitution's requirement for the Legislature to have only one subject in a bill.

The Legislature passed the law in 2013. It was challenged in court by members of the state teachers' organization, the Alabama Education Association.

Alabama Education Association

The state teachers' organization is fighting private school tax credits in court and the architect of the tax credits at the ballot box.

The Alabama Education Association's political action committee filed a campaign finance report showing the largest donation it gave in March was $50,000 to Democratic state Senate candidate Taylor Stewart of Anniston. Stewart is opposing Republican Sen. Del Marsh of Anniston, who was the chief architect of the Alabama Accountability Act.

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