Alabama General Fund

Wilson Lock
Dailynetworks / Wikimedia

Alabama lawmakers are getting closer to a budget agreement after lots of activity in both chambers yesterday.

The Alabama Senate made a few revisions to the 25 cent per pack cigarette tax increase proposal before passing it 21-13. The House voted 52-42 to accept those changes.

Lawmakers also struck a compromise on transferring money from the education budget to the general fund. The House had approved a $50 million transfer, while senators wanted to transfer twice that. A conference committee approved a measure that will shift $80 million between the two budgets.

Governor Robert Bentley says the state faces a “real crisis” with its budget. Bentley is now taking his fight to fill the state’s coffers to the streets.

The governor is continuing his tour of speaking engagements to rally support for his proposed $541 million tax proposal. He spoke at Guntersville State Park yesterday.

The Alabama Senate worked into the night to pass the budget to operate the state's non-education agencies. The Senate voted 22-9 Tuesday night to approve the General Fund budget and send it to the House for further consideration.

Budget committee Chairman Arthur Orr said the $1.7 billion budget follows most of the recommendations that Gov. Robert Bentley made when the legislative session began five weeks ago.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Alabama state non-education employees would not get a cost-of-living raise or merit pay raises under a $1.74 billion General Fund budget approved Wednesday by the Senate Finance and Taxation-General Fund Committee.

The budget for 2013-14 is mostly level with the budget for the current fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. It is just a slight increase from the budget recommended by Gov. Robert Bentley. The chairman of the committee, Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur, said the economy is improving but there is still a shortage of tax revenue for the General Fund budget.

State of Alabama

Alabama's governor is proposing an education budget that gives small increases to all levels of education from kindergarten through college.

Gov. Robert Bentley unveiled his recommended budgets Wednesday. His education budget includes a 2.5 percent pay raise for public school employees and a substantial expansion of Alabama's pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds.

Gov. Robert Bentley says his proposed budgets for the new fiscal year are slightly better than this year's budgets.

Bentley told legislators in his State of the State address Tuesday night that Alabama's economy is improving and that's allowing him to recommend more education spending. His plan includes expanding Alabama's pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds and giving a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise to teachers. He did not recommend a raise for state employees.

Bentley's finance director, Marquita Davis, will release the details of his budget proposals Wednesday.

Alabama State House
Trance Mist / Flickr

The Alabama Legislature's 2013 regular session has started.

Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey started the session in the Senate at noon. Speaker Mike Hubbard gaveled the House into session at 12:10 p.m.

The session will last until mid-May. Lawmakers must complete the session in 30 meeting days during 105 calendar days.

Major issue facing lawmakers will be balancing the General Fund and education budgets in a year when funds are expected to be tight.

Alabama legislators will get an overview of the state's financial situation before they begin their 2013 legislative session at noon.

The director of the Legislative Fiscal Office, Norris Green, and the state finance director, Marquita Davis, are scheduled to address legislators at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Capitol. The financial overview is the traditional kickoff for each year's session.

Legislative budget committee chairmen says revenue for the state General Fund budget looks flat for the next fiscal year, but prospects for the education budget are picking up.