MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The State Finance Director said the general fund budget has seen growth. Gov. Kay Ivey is taking advantage of that growth as she released her budget request March 19.
“So we’ve seen growth from the economy being better," said Kelly Butler, the State Finance Director.
The 2020 general fund budget request has $91 million more than the previous year. Ivey is requesting $5.7 million more for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. A lot of this money will be used for attempting to hire 50 new state troopers.
“With Gov. Ivey and the Legislature’s continued support, we work toward adequately covering Alabama roadways with Troopers 24 hours a day, enhancing our efforts to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities, and continuing to keep the citizens of Alabama safe,” said ALEA Spokeswoman Robyn Bryan in an email.
Gov. Ivey asked for $7.9 million more for the Department of Mental Health and $40 million more for the Alabama Department of Corrections. Majority of the $40 million would be used to hire additional correctional officers.
“This budget is going to get us along the path towards rebuilding our correctional staff,” ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn said March 5.
Ivey is also asking for a 2 percent pay raise for state employees. Alabama State Employees Association Mac McArthur said increasing state salaries will keep the job competitive. He said these salaries have not kept up with the cost of living.
“They have to make a livable wage," he said. "They have to make a wage that doesn’t put them further and further and further behind the cost of living.”
The State of Alabama Personnel Department there are 32,528 permanent state employees. Majority of state employees are merit employees, which have a median annual salary of $48,014. The 3,153 non-merit employees have a median annual salary of $43,533.
“I think there are tough environments to work in across state government," McArthur said. "I think when you are losing ground to the cost of living, it makes that tough job even harder and harder and harder to stay in.”
But even with a good general fund budget this year, the finance director does not anticipate a completely smooth ride in the future.
“It is better,” Butler said. “But there are some challenges.”
Some challenges could include future Medicaid Agency costs. Butler said this general fund budget has a leftover balance of $105 million, just in case the agency needs the money in 2021.
This is only a budget request and will most likely change as lawmakers decide where they want to put the money.