Editorial: General Fund Shortfall

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The start of Alabama's 2013 fiscal year is a short seven months away with large issues to be dealt with.  How large – how about $400 million dollar large?

That is the projected General Fund budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.  The General Fund helps pay for courts, prisons, Medicaid and other non-education functions of government.

I don't know about you, but the looming reality that our courts and prisons will take another funding "haircut" doesn't do much for my peace of mind.

If that doesn't make you uneasy how about the thought of state lawmakers combining the General Fund with the state Education Trust Fund?  Not sure how I feel about lawmakers hands in that cookie jar.

Let's state the obvious for all Alabamians – we need to add revenue to our state coffers and not continue to balance the budget with 25% funding cuts and the unearmarking of educational dollars.  How do you add revenue – you increase taxes.

It's not a popular solution but it's real one.  Lawmakers get elected on platforms of not raising or imposing new taxes but in times like this they need to have the courage to explain to us why that is not a good idea.

We need to stabilize our state finances for today and for the future.  This conversation is a long time coming and needs to begin today in earnest.

We appreciate and encourage your feedback.

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