MONTGOMERY, Ala. — After hours of debate, the Alabama House of Representatives passed the General Fund Budget without a pay increase for state employees. Approved by a vote of 72-28, the latest budget would spend $1.8 billion in the next Fiscal Year.
Alabama liberals and Gov. Robert Bentley (R-Ala.) called for a state employee pay raise at the beginning of the legislative session. In his State of the State address, Bentley called for a four percent raise, which conservatives worried about for cost reasons.
State employees last received a raise in Fiscal Year 2009, which raised their pay by 3.5 percent.
Rep. Napoleon Bracy (D-Prichard) told the Alabama News Network that state employees should not go ten years without a raise. Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said that such a move is unwise because future budgets will be tighter due to the exhaustion of the BP Oil Settlement money.
Since FY 2009, some state employees have gotten merit pay raises, and the state pays for the increases in the health insurance costs.
Alabama is one of only three states that maintains separate budgets. It also has the highest percentage in the country of earmarked revenue, with only approximately 15 percent of total state revenue available to be budgeted at the discretion of the legislature.