Budgets top of mind as AL legislative session begins Tuesday

Updated: Jan. 8, 2018 at 5:54 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The 2018 legislative session is set to begin Tuesday.

"I'm very optimistic, I really think we had a very difficult session this past 2017 year. Looking into this new year and this new legislative session I'm very optimistic. I really believe the best days are ahead of us." House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said. "Lets come in, take care of our constitutional duties, which means let's get the budgets passed and then hopefully get out early."

2018 is an election year and lawmakers usually try to leave session early to go home and campaign.

The first priority will be passing the two state budgets. However, thanks to a strong economic year and holding over more than $90 million from last year's budget, the general fund budget should be OK.

"I think this should be a breath of fresh air, if you will, because we do have additional revenues." McCutcheon said.

Of course the state will still need to find the revenue for things like state prisons and Medicaid, but the task does not seem as difficult as it has been for the last few years.

This is all assuming the federal government funds the CHIP program. If the feds do not provide long-term funding, the state could be on the hook for more than $50 million. Money which the state does not seem to have.

Controversial legislation in election years are normally kept to a minimum. This year, the most controversial bills may be carry overs from last year. Like the permitless carry bill, and the childcare bill.

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