MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The legislative session is quickly coming to a close and I feel like it never really got started. I know that there were lots of issues discussed and some legislation that got advanced but most of the main issues are nowhere close to being resolved.
At the beginning of the session the item most would have said had no chance of getting through was the lottery, but multiple bills got introduced and the one with the most traction came from a Republican. Hopefully the people of Alabama will get the opportunity to vote on this very divisive issue.
The budget issues have not seen near the progress. Governor Bentley laid out his plan early on and for weeks it was if the budget shortfall issue did not exist. Finally, the State House, pushes out a General Fund Budget with $200 million in cuts. House leaders blame Senate leaders saying the Senate told them that the $210 million dollar tax and consolidation package that was being discussed in the house would not pass. House leaders also expressed frustration that there were no suggestions as to what was acceptable.
So what they sent to the Senate was a bill that further cuts the departments and services that are operating at well below where they need to be. There are huge financial issues facing this state. Financial issues that have come about through years of slow growth in the General Fund. The $200 million in cuts is just another example of the legislature kicking the can down the road. It looks like this time they are banking on the lottery to solve the problem
The $210 million dollar tax and consolidation package may not have been the exact answer. Governor Bentleys budget plan may not be the exact answer, but to continue to cut back agencies and services that are proven to be underfunded for another year while hoping that the Lottery, if voted in, will raise the money is irresponsible at best.