MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The legislature is getting back together for the third time THIS YEAR! At stake is the 2016 budget. If a budget does not get passed or gets a veto from the Governor the state would essentially shut down on October 1st.
Politicians will tell you that it is very complicated. I don't claim to be an expert, but here is what I think I know about the topic.
The state has two pots of money. One is for education and one is for pretty much everything else. The Education fund is healthy and has reserves. The General Fund is underfunded. Many of the agencies and programs that fall under this fund are also underfunded. This is a problem.
Now what do we do about it?
Massive cuts to the General Fund budget is not an answer as everything has been cut.
As I see it, that leaves four options. 1) Move money from the Education Fund to the General Fund. 2) Raise taxes to balance the General Fund while leaving the Education Fund intact. 3) A combination of the two. 4) Gambling -- although everyone agrees that gambling is not a 2016 fix.
Public Education in Alabama is not great. Look at any national standard and you can see that. More money in the Education Fund may not be the answer but less is certainly not.
Nobody including me wants more taxes, but increased taxes on tobacco could help our problems both today and in the future while only impacting those that choose to be impacted.
Gambling has its merits and its problems, but in the end the citizens should decide if we want it or don't. Either way it does not help us now.
I am sure that it is much more complicated than that. If so, then it is time for those at the capitol to earn the $800,000 in special session costs that this "poor state" is giving them & deliver a responsible budget to Alabama's citizens.