The Senate Tuesday afternoon debated a $1.747 billion General Fund proposal that was expected to pass this evening.
The budget closely follows Gov. Robert Bentley’s budget recommendation made last month, with about $3 million more for the state’s court system than Bentley initially recommended, and an increase of $17 million for the Department of Corrections. Bentley had sought an increase of about $20 million for the Department to hire 100 correctional officers and improvements to the Julia Tutweiler Prison for Women.
Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said he did not expect the change to Corrections to affect either of those projects.
The budget also includes $5 million to begin paying back $437 million borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund; Bentley signed a bill last month sponsored by Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery that mandates the payback. Elsewhere, the budget level-funds the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the single largest expenditure in the budget, at $615 million. Mental Health would also receive level funding.
Orr’s budget is about $7 million higher than Bentley’s proposal. The budget does not include pay raises for state employees, who have not seen their salaries rise since 2008.
The budget assumes the state will receive $48 million in money from a settlement with tobacco companies over payments to the states. If the money is not forthcoming, or comes in a reduced amount, would be reduced.
Senate Republicans moved to cloture debate on the budget late Tuesday afternoon after about an hour of discussion. Democrats moved to have the bill read at length.
If passed this evening, the budget would move to the House.
– posted by Brian Lyman