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Alabama Legislature poised to approve budget balanced solely on cuts

Rep. Bill Poole, Sen. Arthur Orr, Sen. Pro Tem Del Marsh, Gov. Bentley, Speaker Mike Hubbard, Sen. Jabo Waggoner
Rep. Bill Poole, Sen. Arthur Orr, Sen. Pro Tem Del Marsh, Gov. Bentley, Speaker Mike Hubbard, Sen. Jabo Waggoner

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — After months of debates over tax increases, gambling, and budget cuts, the Alabama Legislature appears poised to pass essentially the exact same budget they approved in the Regular Session—one based solely on across the board, prioritized cuts.

In a Senate Ways and Means-General Fund committee meeting Friday, the House-passed budget cutting Medicaid by $156 million was replaced with a budget spreading the cuts across most General Fund agencies—essentially the exact same budget that was vetoed by Governor Bentley in the Regular Session earlier this year.

“We’re replacing a sorry budget with a crappy budget,” said Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) after the vote.

Committee chairman Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) told Yellowhammer Friday after the committee meeting that, thus far there hasn’t been a high level of outcry from constituents about the level of cuts proposed in this budget.

“There’s been very little impact with legislators during the course of the summer, from what I can tell, as to real concern over the budget and implications from cuts to the divisions of the government that are funded by the General Fund,” he said.

This relative silence on the matter is likely a result of Alabama’s conservative electorate being entirely comfortable with cuts to government and fiercely opposed to tax hikes that could impact small business and families, and ultimately the economy.

The same rules for vetoes apply during Special Sessions as during the Regular Session, meaning the Governor could possibly pocket veto the budget, not giving legislators enough time to override, and forcing a second Special Session.

It takes a simple majority to override a veto in Alabama.

The Senate adjourned at around 1:30 Friday afternoon, and is set to reconvene to debate and vote on the General Fund budget Monday at Noon.

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