Alabama Legislature expecting less money next year

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Legislature's top fiscal expert is making a budget forecast for 2010 that's worse than this year.

The director of the Legislative Fiscal Office, Joyce Bigbee, said today it appears this year's $6.3 billion education budget will have to be cut $360 million due to declining tax revenue, and next year's budget will have to be $341 million smaller than this year's trimmed-back budget. That's a cut of more than $700 million in two years. It would drop the budget to $5.7 billion. She said this year's General Fund budget will have to be trimmed from $2 billion to $1.8 billion due to declining revenue. Then next year's may have to be cut to $1.4 billion.

Bigbee made the forecast to legislators on the first day of their annual budget hearings in Montgomery. Her forecast was based on declining state tax revenue due to the recession. Lawmakers said the forecast likely means fewer state employees and teachers, delays in purchasing computers and textbooks for schools, and higher tuition for college students.

Gov. Bob Riley will present his revenue forecast and recommended budgets to the Legislature during the first week in February.

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