House Speaker Mike Hubbard said the House will support several Business Council of Alabama goals in the 2015 legislative session that begins today in Montgomery. Hubbard, R-Auburn, said the GOP’s plan is to quickly advance charter school legislation and send it to Governor Robert Bentley for consideration. “I believe this is the year we get it done,” Hubbard said.
Charter school legislation, a centerpiece of the BCA’s 2015 State Legislative Agenda, is scheduled for a public hearing in Wednesday’s Senate Education Committee. Hubbard said he believes the bill will be voted out of the committee on Thursday and get a second reading, one step away from consideration for Senate passage and transmittal to the House.
“It puts it on the fast track,” Hubbard said.
Charter schools, like magnet schools where funding follows students, would be under decentralized governance and would have to follow high performance standards.
Proposed charter school legislation would authorize up to five public charter schools a year over the next 10 years and give parents of children trapped in poorly functioning schools the ability to move their children without having to physically move their household. “It’s going to be part of the solution,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard said legislation to appropriate $5 million to dual-enrollment, career-tech scholarships also is on a fast track. Dual-enrollment allows high school students to enroll in two-year college technical or education programs and gain tech-school or college credits when they graduate from high school.
Dual-enrollment creates students who are career-ready for well-paying jobs in the business world.
“That has been a game changer,” Hubbard said. “From a business standpoint, it makes sense for business to be involved because you are the consumer of public school products.”
Hubbard also said that bills that would give tax credits to existing business will add to Alabama’s economic development tools.
“We want to be able to have incentives just like for new jobs,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard said the House will consider Governor Bentley’s proposed 2015-16 General Fund budget that has a $541 million tax package as its centerpiece.
“His job is to come up with proposals to us,” Hubbard said. “We have different ideas and plans. We will continue to communicate.”
Bentley was to addresses a joint session of the Legislature later Tuesday.
BCA’s Tuesday morning briefings are held each week during the legislative session and feature legislative and administration officials who discuss topics of interest for Alabama’s business community.