Bond issue approved for Alabama armories, schools

Alabama State Capital, Montgomery, Alabama (MGN Online)
Alabama State Capital, Montgomery, Alabama (MGN Online)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The Alabama Legislature agreed on its last day to sell bonds to borrow $30 million to repair tornado-damaged schools and $50 million to build National Guard armories.

The Senate voted 26-6 Monday afternoon to give final passage to the school bond legislation. The bill now goes to the governor for his review.

The bill would provide $15 million for Mobile’s Murphy High School, which was damaged by a tornado on Christmas Day. There is also money for five other schools damaged by tornadoes on April 27, 2011. Three schools in the Tuscaloosa area would benefit, with $3 million for Alberta City Elementary and $2.5 million each for University Place Elementary and Holt Elementary. Phil Campbell High School will receive $6.4 million and Plainview High School $604,000.

The House voted 93-1 Monday night to approve the armory bond issue. That measure is a proposed constitutional amendment that won’t take effect unless approved by Alabama voters in a statewide referendum next year.

Democratic Rep. Joe Hubbard of Montgomery questioned the state’s method of building during a period of tight budgets. “When we can’t raise money for good purposes, we borrow it,” he said.

Also Monday, the Senate approved and sent back to the House another bill to borrow $50 million through bonds to provide new technology training equipment in Alabama’s public schools. If approved by the House on the Legislature’s final meeting day it will provide equipment to help the State Board of Education achieve its goal of having all high school graduates ready for college or a career.

Another bond issue to provide $50 million for school security measures passed the House but died because the Senate never received a report from a committee that approved the bill. The bill was recommended by a legislative committee that studied security issues in Alabama schools after the deadly mass shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, but opponents said no bonds should be sold until there is more study of schools’ individual needs.

As the Legislature worked toward a midnight end to the 2013 legislative session, the Senate’s work agenda did not include a House-approved bill to sell $100 million in bonds to help students switch from traditional paper textbooks to electronic textbooks on computer tablets or similar devices.

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