MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama's Senate passed a bill Wednesday afternoon regarding funds from the BP oil spill settlement by a vote of 22-8. The move provides last second funding to the state's Medicaid program, which was staring at an $85 million budget shortfall.
The measure now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley for approval, who called the bill "bipartisan" and added that it was a "great victory". He promised to sign the bill into law.
Here's how the bill breaks down the $1 billion that Alabama received in the BP settlement:
- $400 million will go toward paying off state debts in the Rainy Day fund and the Alabama Trust Fund.
- $120 million will go toward state road projects in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
- $120 million will go toward Medicaid over the next two years. $15 million will go toward Medicaid this year, along with $70 million freed up through debt repayment. That will fund the program's $85 million shortfall that was projected for this year.
- $105 million has been set aside for Fiscal Year 2018 budget where the shortfall was projected before this bill to be around $165 million.
Gov. Bentley is reacting to the legislation at this time. We'll update this story with more of his reaction shortly.
"They should look at the legislature...," said House Speaker Mac McCutcheon. "Tit they didn't rush into anything with this bill. I think that is one thing that is very important. They didn't rush in and pass something very quickly. This took some time and took a lot of work. So that's something they can take away."
Rep. Craig Ford, the Minority Leader issued this statement:
The Alabama Medical Association also praised the bill's passage:
Following Senate approval, the body adjourned, bringing an end to the special session called by Gov. Bentley to discuss a state constitutional amendment to create a lottery system.