Ivey signs oversight, teachers’ benefits bills

Ivey signs oversight, teachers’ benefits bills

By Mary Sell, Alabama Daily News

Alabama’s state agencies wanting to spend more than $10 million on purchases or projects will soon have to answer more questions from a panel of lawmakers.

Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday signed House Bill 392 from Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia. Though the final version of the bill significantly scaled back from what Jones originally filed, the bill will give the existing Legislative Contract Review Committee, made up of about a dozen lawmakers, the ability to question state agency or department spending of more than $10 million from their General Fund appropriations.

The committee can delay state contracts and expenditures for 45 days, but can’t outright kill them.

Jones’ bill as originally written would have given the Legislature more approval authority. Ivey’s office worked to oppose and lessen the bill’s scope.

House leadership previously said the bill would give the Legislature more oversight of spending like the prison leases Ivey signed early this year.

Ivey also signed legislation allowing newer teachers to rollover each year their sick leave and get paid for unused days when they retire. Current Tier II teachers lose unused days each year.

Sponsor Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, has said his goal with House Bill 93 was to erase some of the “disparity” between Tier I and Tier II benefit recipients.  As originally written this year and approved in the House, Baker’s bill would have let Tier II teachers collect retirement after 30 years instead of at age 62 as is now law. That portion was struck.

The bill also increases teachers’ contributions to their retirement from 6% to 6.2%. Tier II retirement benefits went into effect for new teachers in 2013 in an effort to save the state money on retirement costs. Teachers already in the classroom at that time got to stay in the more generous Tier I.