Legislature likely to see special session

Published 4:00 am Tuesday, June 2, 2015

With the Alabama Legislative season drawing to a close without resolution on funding issues, state Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy, sees a special session in the near future.

“I don’t think we’ll have a general fund budget by (the end of) this session,” Boothe said. “Revenue measures have to start in the House by law, and there aren’t any that can start in enough time to be sent to the Senate. We’ve sent the budget, but there aren’t any additional revenue measures … there is just not enough time for that to happen before the end of session.”

Boothe said the Senate had proposed taking a one-time sum of money from the Alabama Trust Fund to balance the budget, but the House closed for business before the Senate could put the proposal in place.

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“They wanted to take up to $100 million out of the Education Trust Fund as a one-time lump sum, but books got closed before they were able to transmit that message,” Boothe said. “I’m not in favor of doing that. We’re struggling in education now and we need to keep all the money we can in the education budget.”

It’s also been proposed to combine both the education and general fund budgets, but Boothe said he wouldn’t go for that solution.

“I am not in favor of combining the budgets,” Boothe said. “I think when you do you will see money in the education trust fund and the education budget there for education suffer. We work so hard and long to get these budgets in order. It’s not growing a lot, but it’s still maintaining it’s own. We need to do some of the same fixing in the General Fund.”

Boothe also said the House had passed an off-steering budget and sent it to the Senate. The budget is a model of last year’s budget and allows for the appropriation of revenues when they come in, Boothe said.

“The governor will have something in place,” Boothe said. “Although, it’s not what he wants and one that is really workable under current conditions. But, it’s a mechanism so he can release those conditions to fund the general fund.”

Boothe said he thought this would all be done during a mid-August special session. Right now, Boothe said all ticket items to increase revenues for the state were off the table, and lawmakers must develop new proposals for the mid-August special session.

“The problem is that some want taxes and some don’t want taxes,” Boothe said. “More don’t want taxes that do, so we’re at a point where we’ll have to cut services or get some revenues to make up for the money. The other proposals, they’re pretty much dead in the water now. This session, the hopes are that the Senate will past the off-steer budget that doesn’t have any growth in it.”

Having the session in mid-August is preferable, Boothe said, because it allows legislators time to develop different proposals and hopefully allow for an agreement to be made between the House and Senate on the budget.

“Now, we’ve got to have time to get together and work on these proposals and come up with things that everyone will agree on,” Boothe said. “If you adjourn one night, and the special session is right after we won’t have the time to come up with those plans. We have to have time to have leadership get together and get with the governor that way we’ll all agree on something and can come back in and pass the budget and don’t waste a bunch of money.”