Budgets near completion

Alabama's budgets are near passage in the legislature but there is still some tweaking left between both chambers as well as the governor.

Governor Robert Bentley sent back both budgets to the legislature for revisions.

He tacked on an executive amendment where he made changes to the budgets to restore funding for the Alabama Medicaid Agency.

The agency's budget makes up about 40% of the General Fund.

The Senate did take action on a bill that would provide a relief for both of the state's budgets by requiring education and state employees to contribute to their retirement funds.

"It effects a lot of Alabamians that make below $50,000 or less and we're going to be asking them to take $1,500 dollars apiece out of their paycheck this calendar year" said Rep. Craig Ford, (D – Etowah), the House Minority Leader.

But Republicans have said since March when the bill was introduced that this was a solution to some of the state's financial problems. The state's Finance Director David Perry has said this is another measure that would offer the state flexibility in its budgeting process.

Rep. Jim Barton, (R - Mobile), the chairman of the General Fund Budget Committee said "I hated to have to do it but we're in the position that we had to do it and I would much rather force an employee to pay a little bit more toward their benefits rather than eliminate jobs and that's what we did."

Over the next year and a half, state and education employees will be required to contribute an additional 50% of their salaries toward their retirement.

Currently they contribute 5% but over the next 18 months that will increase to 7.5%.

The budgets are based on the money saved by those measures becoming law.

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