Late Wednesday the Alabama House and Senate gave final approvals to a General Fund Budget, ending four months of uncertainty for many state agencies and the citizens that receive those services. With just two weeks left before the beginning of the fiscal year, state government looks to be on track to continue work and lawmakers can go home knowing they fulfilled their constitutional duties for the year.
The budget approved by both houses is a mixture of new revenue, budget reform, and cuts because not all of Gov. Robert Bentley’s proposed revenue measures made it through the entire legislative process. Below is a list of actions taken by the Legislature to craft the General Fund Budget:
- A cigarette tax of 25 cents per pack that is estimated to bring in around $70 million
- The permanent transfer of a portion of the Use Tax from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund that should total $80 million for this fiscal year
- Two new provider taxes that involved nursing homes and pharmacies that would generate close to $16 million
This budget level funds the state’s largest five agencies, provides increases for corrections and prison reform, and cuts other agencies by a small percentage.
While Gov. Bentley has not signed the budget, it is expected that he will do so as soon as he and his staff have the opportunity to review it in its entirety. The next regular session of the legislature is set to begin in February 2016.