Joyce Bigbee, Alabama’s Legislative Fiscal Office director, has warned lawmakers that the state’s General Fund for fiscal 2011 could be down 31%. The director predicted spending by the state’s Education Trust Fund, including federal stimulus money, in fiscal year 2011 should be about even with spending this year, but her prediction for the state General Fund, a major source of money for Medicaid, prisons and other non-education state spending, was much worse. As you probably know, fiscal 2011 year for state government starts October 1, 2010.
Director Bigbee predicted that spending in fiscal 2011 for the General Fund would total $1.45 billion. This would include federal stimulus money. The General Fund budget would have a reduction of $642 million, or 31% from this year’s combined spending. A big reason for the drop is that the state will already have spent most of its federal stimulus money available for non-education operating expenses.
Education Trust Fund spending, with federal stimulus money, should be $5.59 billion in fiscal 2011, a decline of about $33 million or less than 1% from this year’s combined spending. The Education Trust Fund is the main source of state money for public schools, colleges and universities.
State School Superintendent Joe Morton has told lawmakers in the budget hearings that as many as 3,543 teaching positions could be eliminated in the next school year unless K-12 public schools get an extra $235 million over the past year’s budgeted spending. There are currently about 48,500 state-funded teachers in Alabama public schools. This is just one of the many fiscal problems facing Governor Riley and the Legislature.
It is being predicted by some that the General Fund could see a 30% cut in many of the agencies funded from that source. It’s likely Governor Riley will declare proration in the General Fund budgets, which is something that hasn’t happened in years. The members of the House and Senate had better fasten their seatbelts – they are in for a very rough ride!
Source: Birmingham News
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