The Alabama Legislature came back to “work” on Feb. 2 and the legislators will have 30 meeting days over the next three months. There are several critically important issues facing the Legislature this term, most of which revolve around the two state budgets.
Legislators find themselves in the same predicament as last year when it comes to the budgets. Prior to the session beginning, key legislators met and held budget hearings where each key agency explained in detail its budgetary needs. It comes as no surprise that more money is needed for the state agencies. To meet their basic responsibilities to our citizens, new funds are badly needed. There simply isn’t any additional money available in the budget. The legislators have refused to raise any new taxes and as a result services have suffered.
As it relates to the budget, this year could be even more interesting than last year. Last year certain revenue increases were suggested and studied but, for the most part, rejected. It appears that there will not be additional money available in the general fund budget and therefore agencies will be, once again, asked to further “tighten their belts.”
Some legislators have discussed the possibility of “un-earmarking” certain revenue items to allow those funds to be used for other spending needs. Additionally, some legislators are calling for the end of having two separate budgets (the general fund budget and the education budget) and placing all the State’s revenue in “one pot” and splitting the revenue 78 percent for education and 22 percent for the general fund. It would appear that there is a strong consensus that teachers should receive a pay raise during this session. However, it appears that some leaders in the legislature favor tying a teacher pay raise to some changes in the tenure system. Obviously, the education community would be in favor of a teacher raise but would not want to change the current tenure laws.
Once again this year I believe that there will be some call for a state lottery. Lottery fever swept the state a few months ago and has put the topic back in the forefront of the minds of many Alabamians as a solution to raise additional revenue. Senator Jim McClendon, a Republican, was the first to sponsor a lottery plan this session. Most lottery plans will call for a constitutional amendment that would allow the people of Alabama to decide whether or not they want a lottery.
Following what happens in this session should be very interesting. Obviously, once again this year the big elephant in the room is going to be the lack of revenue to fund all the State’s needs. Stay tuned.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.