Fallout over a five-year investigation of Alabama State University that found no wrongdoing temporarily stalled consideration of the education budget in the state Senate.
Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, proposed an amendment to boost Alabama State’s budget by $3.5 million to offset the damage caused by the investigation.
When the Senate rejected the amendment, Singleton launched a filibuster to block a vote on the budget.
Singleton later proposed a second amendment to provide an additional $1.2 million to Alabama State. The Senate adopted the second amendment, then approved the education budget.
The education budget calls for spending $6.6 billion from the Education Trust Fund next year, about $216 million more than this year.
The House had passed the budget earlier, but would have to agree to Senate changes before sending the budget to the governor, who could give it final approval.
The probe of ASU was launched under former Gov. Robert Bentley and closed last year by the state Attorney General’s office with no charges.
ASU officials and former officials have previously said the investigation hurt the university’s finances and reputation, leading to a decline in enrollment and other problems.
Singleton said the University of Alabama and Auburn University would never have been targets of a forensic audit and subsequent investigation under the same circumstances.
Although Singleton’s first amendment was rejected, other senators from both parties made comments on the floor backing Singleton in his view of what happened to Alabama State.
“We had what amounted to a public show trial with no indictments and no convictions,” Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, said.
Singleton said the $1.2 million in his amendment for ASU would go to deferred maintenance. Before the amendment, the budget already included $400,000 for dormitory renovations at ASU.
With Singleton’s amendment, ASU would now receive $46 million from the Education Trust Fund, an increase of $3 million over this year.
Earlier today, the Senate also approved a 2.5 percent cost of living raise for education employees in K-12 and community colleges. The raise is expected to cost about $102 million a year.