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State Rep. Clouse: $400M in federal relief money, $150M cash-on-hand, potential $785M in bonding at legislature’s disposal for prison solution

During an appearance on this week’s broadcast of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), the chairman of the House General Fund Budget Committee, laid out how the state plans to finance the early stages of the much-deliberated state prison solution.

Clouse said it would be a combination of federal rescue money, an unanticipated surplus of general fund cash-on-hand and up to $785 million in borrowed money.

“[T]he rescue funds were passed in Washington back in March,” he said. “And we started seeing in June that we would probably be able to use these funds for prison construction. We’ve had some good fortune there, and I think we’re going to be able to use part of those funds. In fact, I know we are. And we will be using approximately $400 million right off of that in rescue funds for the prison construction, and we’ve had good revenue numbers coming out of the general fund — very good, more so than what we thought when we come here out of the regular session. I think we’re going to be able to have a supplemental appropriation of at pretty close to $150 million of general fund dollars.”

“So, the men’s prison in Escambia County — we’ll be able to basically build that with cash without having to use any bond money there,” Clouse continued. “That’s going to be really advantageous to the taxpayers as far as saving money on interest income.”

Host Don Dailey asked if the state would bond the difference in any shortfalls not covered by existing federal relief or general fund money.

Also, according to the Dale County lawmaker, the timing of the phased approach would be contingent on the progress made on the construction of the two mega-prisons.

“That’s correct,” Clouse added. “Up to $785 million. We want to try to get after we get past this phase one, which is the two men’s mega-prisons, go into phase two, which we have to have 60% of the two megas finished first, doing renovations at the Limestone facility, the Donaldson facility in Jefferson County, rebuilding the women’s prison at Tutwiler in Elmore County, and also renovation of one of the facilities in Barbour or Bullock County.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.