Editorial: Alabama State Budget

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Senate approved $1.76 billion General Fund budget in the 2nd week of the 2011 Regular Session.  This budget now moving to the House for consideration is proposed at an increase of $177.5 million or plus 11.2 percent from this year's prorated level.

The General Fund, which provides appropriations for all non-education entities for the 2012 fiscal year passed the Senate with funding protected for Medicaid, Department of Corrections and The Ethics Commission.  Prisons would receive a $62.6 million increase in funding and Medicaid a $247 million to maintain services that had been financed with federal stimulus funds, which are running out this year.

Regarding cuts, the Senate version of the General Fund Budget eliminates at least 186 line-items from the budget completely.

The two agencies that will receive some of the most substantial cuts are the Judiciary and the Department of Public Health.  The Judicial Department will receive an 18% cut and the Alabama Department of Public Health a 37% reduction.

Challenging as the 2012 budget will be 2013 is even more daunting. $263 million from the oil and gas trust fund in the 2012 budget will not be available in 2013.

Now more than ever we encourage all House and Senate members to engage in meaningful debate and collaborate across party lines.  Have the courage and wisdom to make the tough decisions and then back it up with a sound plan to keep our state strong.

I'm Collin Gaston – we welcome your feedback.