Editorial: Financial Challenges

The regular session of the Alabama legislature starts next week, a very early start because it's an election year.

The head start will be needed to deal with the pressing problem of how to cut at least a third of the general fund budget.  And if no cuts are made to Medicaid and Corrections, lawmakers will need to cut nearly half of the general fund budget for the 2011 fiscal year.

A nearly 1% cut will also be needed in the Education Trust Fund budget.

The cuts are necessary because revenue is down.

Just over 100 million dollars of the federal stimulus money remains for the general fund budget and nearly 300 million for the education budget, the rest will be spent this year.

So it is time to deal with the reality that has been postponed for several years now.

Jobs will be cut.  Services will be cut.  Everyone in the state will be affected.

To tackle this budget issue for the long term, the legislature will need to base budgets on historical trends rather than on predictions for tax collections.

For the short term, the governor and legislators and the candidates for governor and the legislature, will need to address how we are going to raise the needed revenue to continue to fund services to us all.