Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

http://governor.alabama.gov / Office of the Governor

Gov. Robert Bentley's tax return shows he's still not receiving any income from being governor, but he and his wife reported an adjusted gross income of nearly $373,000 for 2013. About $233,000 of that came from Bentley selling his interest in the building where his medical practice was located in Tuscaloosa. Much of the remainder was from IRA distributions and Social Security. The governor and first lady paid more than $81,000 in taxes. They also donated more than $15,000 to charities. Bentley has been releasing his tax returns every year since he ran for governor in 2010.

State of Alabama

  Gov. Robert Bentley won't make a quick decision on whether to sign the state's Education Trust Fund budget or force lawmakers back into a special session over the issue of a raise for education employees.

Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis said Friday that there is no timeframe on when he will make a decision.

Bentley has until April 13 to sign the budget into law or it will die through a pocket veto.

NPR

Gov. Robert Bentley says he still hopes to get a 2 percent pay raise approved for public school employees.

Bentley said Monday that he's glad that he and legislative leaders agreed to increase funding for the education employees' health insurance program, and he says that should keep them from having to pay higher costs. But Bentley says he wants the Legislature to do more with three meeting days left in the legislative session.

The Associated Press

A spokeswoman for Gov. Robert Bentley says he's supportive of $250,000 added to the state General Fund budget for hiring a prison ombudsman in the governor's office.

Senate budget committee Chairman Arthur Orr added the money to the General Fund budget when his committee approved it on Wednesday. Orr says the ombudsman would start by focusing on complaints from inmates at Tutwiler Prison for women in Wetumpka. Some inmates at Tutwiler have complained about sexual abuse. Orr says the ombudsman would give the governor a direct line to what's going on in Tutwiler.

yellowhammernews.com

Gov. Robert Bentley may have no way to give education employees the 2 percent pay raise he has recommended.

Bentley recommended a 2 percent raise at the start of the legislative session. The Senate reduced Bentley's pay raise bill to a one-time bonus of 1 percent. That bill stalled in the House budget committee Wednesday. Bentley said Thursday he needs a pay raise bill of some type to amend the amount to 2 percent. He said he can't enact a raise by adding language to the state education budget.

Garry Knight / Flickr

Three candidates for governor are running on state lottery platforms.

Both Democratic candidates for governor, former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith of Huntsville and Fayette businessman Kevin Bass, are proposing a lottery to pay for college scholarships. One of the Republican candidates, former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George, is advocating a lottery to pay for scholarships and several other programs.

http://governor.alabama.gov / Office of the Governor

Alabama's Scenic River Trail will be getting signs alerting boaters to navigation obstacles, takeout points, and locations for food, gas and lodging.

Gov. Robert Bentley has awarded $80,000 in federal recreation funds for signs along the 2,500-mile trail of navigable rivers, streams and lakes.

The Scenic River Trail Association estimates the grant will help provide at least 200 signs. The association says the signs will encourage more recreational use of Alabama's waterways and increase opportunities for outfitters and merchants along the trail.

opensecrets.org

Former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith kicked off his Democratic campaign for governor by calling for the creation of a state lottery to fund college scholarships and an expansion of the state Medicaid program under the federal health care law. Griffith says a healthier, better educated Alabama will lead to more jobs. Griffith outlined his campaign agenda of jobs, education and health care in a letter posted on his new campaign website Wednesday. In interviews, he called Republican incumbent Robert Bentley timid for not expanding Medicaid. Griffith was elected to Congress as a Democrat.

politico.com

Gov. Robert Bentley says two National Guard wreckers have been dispatched to Interstate 65 near Cullman to help clear jackknifed 18-wheelers that blocked northbound traffic.

The governor says one lesson learned from the Jan. 28 ice storm was to get National Guard wreckers organized early to pull stalled vehicles to the side of the road until the weather clears and the owners can reclaim them.

Alabama Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Harris says the state has brought in contractor crews to assist with snow removal across north Alabama counties.

opensecrets.org

Former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith of Huntsville is running for governor as a Democrat. Griffith turned in his qualifying papers at state party headquarters in Montgomery shortly before the deadline on Friday. Griffith served as a Democrat in the Alabama Senate and then was elected to Congress to represent part of north Alabama. After his election he switched to the Republican Party and lost a GOP primary bid to Mo Brooks, who now represents the 5th District. Griffith recently rejoined the Democratic Party.

The Governor's Office

Alabama's unemployment rate has dropped to 6.1 percent.

Gov. Robert Bentley says that's a five-year low. The last time Alabama has a rate at or below 6.1 percent was October 2008, when the rate was 5.9 percent.

The state Labor Department says December's rate of 6.1 percent compares to 6.2 percent in November and 6.8 percent a year ago. Alabama's rate is below the national average of 6.7 percent. Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby at 3.8 percent, Lee at 4.7 percent and St. Clair and Cullman at 4.8 percent.

governor.alabama.gov

Gov. Robert Bentley is proposing state budgets that would require most state agencies to get by next year with about the same amount they are receiving this year.

Bentley's proposals include increases for all levels of public education.

Bentley's office released his recommended budgets Tuesday, which is the second day of the Legislature's 2014 session.

Bentley's state General Fund budget for the next fiscal year would spend $1.8 billion. The biggest increase is $70 million is for Medicaid. Courts would get a small increase.

blog.al.com

Alabama is launching a program called "State of Champions" to try to reduce the state's high infant mortality rate.

State Health Officer Don Williamson and Gov. Robert Bentley said Friday it will take time to reduce Alabama's rate, which is traditionally in the top three among states, but they are determined to do it.

RNC

A longshot Republican candidate for governor is campaigning again after being sidelined by illness.

Former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George said Thursday that he was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic on Oct. 2. The illness involves a low blood platelet count. It required lots of treatments to get his platelet count back to normal and end his fatigue. But George says he's back to running.

yellowhammernews.com

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says Boeing used the state for leverage when it was shopping for potential plant sites during labor negotiations.

But Bentley said Wednesday that he believes the aircraft manufacturer really was interested in the Huntsville area as a new home for jetliner production. Bentley says putting together a proposal for the plant will help Alabama eventually.

Bentley made his remarks after a luncheon speech in Birmingham where he talked about the upcoming legislative session.

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