Budgets among top priorities as AL legislative session starts

Published: Jan. 9, 2018 at 3:11 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2018 at 3:47 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA/AP) - With the sound of the gavel, Alabama's 2018 legislative session is underway, and there's plenty of business to attend to.

Legislators will have their hands full with major budget issues while simultaneously keeping their eyes on the looming election cycle.

On the budget front, lawmakers have to come up with solutions dealing with the state's prison system. The Alabama Department of Corrections is under a federal judge's order to improve mental health care for inmates.

There's also the Childrens' Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, to consider. If the federal government doesn't renew funding for the program, Alabama will have to pick up some of the costs. That would make the state's budget year much more difficult.

Among other matters that legislators could deal with during the regular session: daycare regulations, a teacher pay raise and ethics reform

Alabama State Finance Director Clinton Carter, pointing out the state's historic low 3.5 percent unemployment rate during a presentation Tuesday morning, said if there's a theme, it's something along the lines of "We have great news, but proceed with caution."

Gov. Kay Ivey, who will present her first State of the State address later Tuesday evening, has rolled out her proposals for both the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund, both with a cost of living increase included.

Ivey will use her address to propose pay raises for state and education employees.



Copyright 2018 WSFA 12 News. The Associated Press contributed. All rights reserved.