It appears that a few members of the House let a personal vendetta against the Alabama Law Institute cloud their judgment and that almost resulted in shutting down the organization. The institute, which is based at the University of Alabama School of Law, was created in 1967 and operates with a seven-member staff. The well-respected Institute volunteers to clarify, revise, and simplify state laws, among other duties. I believe it has been a valuable source of information to Legislators over the years. The Institute has also hosted orientation for incoming State Legislators every four years in Tuscaloosa.
The Institute currently operates with an annual appropriation from the state General Fund, which after proration, is $673,454. But for the next fiscal year, the House for some reason cut the appropriation to $50,000. Law Institute Director Bob McCurley said the Institute would have had to shut down if this appropriation had stood. In my opinion, it would have been a big mistake to pull the plug on the Institute and put it out of business.
Gov. Robert Bentley, who is facing significant budget shortfalls because of declining revenues, and some very poor fiscal planning in past years, recommended cutting the Institute’s budget to $561,562 for 2011-12. The Senate went along with the Governor’s recommendation, but the House voted to cut the appropriation to the Institute to $50,000. The budget went to a House-Senate conference committee for reconciliation when the Legislators returned to Montgomery. A compromise was reached by the Legislative leadership and it appears the Institute will survive. The orientation will apparently be moved to Montgomery. Perhaps that’s a good thing, but I doubt folks in Tuscaloosa or at the University of Alabama would agree.
Source: Tuscaloosa News
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