Bentley addresses state

Published 10:16 pm Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Gov. Robert Bentley is proposing a 2.5 percent teacher pay raise, he announced Tuesday night in his State of the State address, which opened the 2013 session of the Alabama Legislature.

“I want our teachers and support personnel to know how much we appreciate how hard they work,” Bentley said. “That is why I am recommending a two-and-a-half percent pay raise for our teachers and for our support personnel.  As our economy improves, I expect this increase to be the start of what we hope will be greater and more frequent raises for our teachers.”

Bentley, who spent much of the speech praising the state’s economic recovery and efforts to curb government expenses, also said he will also ask for increased funding for the state’s voluntary pre-K programs, which have been ranked best in the state, although the state ranks 33rd for access to such programs.

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“Administered by the Office of School Readiness, local, voluntary Pre-K programs may apply for grants but will be required to meet certain criteria,” he said. “They will also be required to produce real results.  We must close the achievement gap.  Children and schools must be given every chance to succeed. I truly believe by allowing greater access to a voluntary Pre-K education, we will change the lives of children in Alabama. There are schools in Alabama which are chronically failing, and we must address and turn them around.”

Bentley said his office will promote a homeland security hotline to help gather tips on threats in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy.

“I’ve asked the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to develop a strategic plan for preventing and responding to incidents of active shooters,” Bentley said. “Through use of training, technology through Virtual Alabama and public engagement, we hope to prevent tragedies from happening.  A Homeland Security hotline is now posted on the Governor’s Office website. Anyone can call that number and report suspicious activity. Calls are anonymous and are connected to the state’s intelligence and information sharing operation.”