Legislators hear dire budget forecasts

MONTGOMERY, AL WSFA - The Legislature's top financial expert says this year's education and General Fund budgets are at risk of across-the-board cuts because revenue is falling below appropriations.

Joyce Bigbee, the director of the Legislative Fiscal Office, told legislators Tuesday that the education budget could require 2.3 percent in cuts. She said the General Fund for non-education agencies could need as much as 9 percent in cuts.

Bigbee made her forecasts on the first day of budget hearings for the new Republican-controlled Legislature.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) responded to the dire budget projections saying he appreciated the candide tone of the assessment. "We can be a leaner, more efficient government while still being productive and responsive. It's time to form a strategic spending plan that will help us craft proration-proof budgets moving forward," Hubbard said.

Deficit spending is illegal in Alabama. It's up to the governor to decide whether to order cuts. Gov. Robert Bentley has not yet made a decision.  

Copyright 2011 WSFA 12 News. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.