Governor blames proration increase on BP and Attorney General

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Montgomery, AL (WSFA) – More deep cuts are on the way to Alabama Schools.  Late Thursday, Governor Bob Riley announced a 2% increase in proration for the education budget, bringing the total to 9.5%.

The decision came after oil giant BP denied the state $148 million dollars in claims from that massive oil spill.

It was money that was earmarked for schools; a tough blow to an already strapped education budget.

State School Superintendent Joe Morton had to deliver the news to the school systems.

He said, "Whatever the reason, it is regrettable.  As the math worked out on that, we seem to be $113 million dollars short to keep proration at 7.5%."

The reason for the shortfall is that the state was counting on receiving nearly $150 million dollars as part of BP's claims payment for lost tax revenue earmarked for education.

For now, the company is refusing payment, and the Governor says that proration is inevitable when revenues fall short.

He blames the Attorney General's lawsuit against BP for the company rejecting the claim.

Governor Riley said, "We had every confidence that we were going to get the BP payment in time to keep from having proration.  We did not anticipate the Attorney General's lawsuit, and now, he's basically putting everything we were trying to do on hold."

BP spokesperson Justin Saia agrees that the lawsuit didn't help.

He said, "The litigation added to the complexity of the matter, and it makes immediate resolution unachievable."

Parents we talked with say BP needs to pay up because for now, it's the children who will foot the bill.

Monique Davis said, "BP is a multi-million dollar corporation, and they can afford to give Alabama that money.  The schools are already going through enough.  They need to give that money to Alabama, so it can be distributed the way it's supposed to be."

Spencer Williams said, "We need education. We don't need anything to take away from the education funds."

Attorney General Troy King says BP doesn't have the best interests of the state at heart.

He released a statement saying in part, "We've tried it the Governor's way,  and it did not work.  You can't deal with a bully by bowing, scraping and begging.  It is now obvious that BP never had any intention of paying this claim."

King had scheduled a news conference for Friday morning to discuss the situation.

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