Time is running out for the Alabama Legislature to work out a general fund budget.
State agency heads told members of the Senate budget committee yesterday that proposed cuts will close circuit clerk offices, slash Medicaid services and send state prisons into a danger zone of crowding and violence.
Chairman Arthur Orr says there are close to $150 million in revenue generating bills under discussion that could reduce the cuts if they win legislative approval.
Governor Robert Bentley is weighing in on the general fund budget plan approved by the Alabama House. The package would cut $200 million from state agencies after GOP lawmakers could not reach an agreement on tax increases. Representatives voted 66-36 for the spending plan yesterday.
Most Democrats voted against the budget after criticizing the cuts and Governor Bentley feels the same way…
CULLMAN—Governor Robert Bentley on Monday met with members of the Cullman County Chamber of Commerce to discuss the current budget crisis in the General Fund and the impact to Cullman County if the Legislature’s severe cuts are enacted.
Governor Robert Bentley says the state faces a “real crisis” with its budget.
The governor continued his tour of speaking engagements to rally support for his proposed $541 million tax proposal. He spoke at Guntersville State Park today.
The Department of Conservation is working on a contingency plan to close 15 of 22 state parks because of anticipated budget cuts. He says it will be lawmakers who close state parks and axe other state services if they fail to approve new revenue for the budget.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says he is concerned about what lawmakers' proposed General Fund budget will mean for his office. The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee on Wednesday approved a budget that zeroes out the office's current $7 million appropriation. The budget bill says the office should instead use $7 million from the national settlement with five big mortgage companies. Strange says it is troubling that lawmakers would not guarantee full funding for the office that prosecutes criminals and is trying the BP oil spill case. Gov.
State Health Officer Don Williamson told Alabama lawmakers that money will be available to fund Alabama's Medicaid program at a minimal level through 2014.
But Williamson told a joint meeting of the House and Senate General Fund budget committees Wednesday he did not know where the money would come from after 2014 to run the health insurance program for the economically disadvantaged.
Williamson is also the interim director of the Alabama Medicaid Program.
Gov. Robert Bentley's office says Alabama's open records law doesn't cover budget cut proposals he could have implemented if Alabama voters had rejected the transfer of $437 million to the state General Fund budget. The Decatur Daily filed a public records request asking for correspondence between the governor and his staff or agency heads about possible cuts and about plans for early retirement incentives for public employees.
Officials with Alabama's Department of Homeland Security say the agency has been steadily losing funds during the past decade. The department's federal funding this year is less than one-tenth of what it was in 2003. Department officials say state funding — $374,000 this year — is used mostly to meet the demands of Alabama's immigration law. State-level homeland security departments sprang up across the U.S. in the months and years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.