June 5, 2015
Legislative Days 27-29
The Alabama Legislature met this week for the 27th - 29th legislative days. After meeting most of the day on Thursday and the Senate approving the General Fund Budget, the Senate and House adjourned for the final day of the legislative session, also known as Sine Die.
Governor Signs Education Trust Fund
Governor Robert Bentley this week signed the $6 billion Education Trust Fund into law. The budget received praise and support from Republicans and Democrats given the stable state of the budget compared to the state's General Fund budget. The budget allows for several increases for education. The increases include $13 million more for textbooks, $3 million more for classroom materials, $5.2 million more for Dual Enrollment Programs, $4.5 million more for transportation operations, and $10 million more for First-Class Pre-Kindergarten.
General Fund Budget Receives Final Passage, Governor Vetoes
On Thursday the State Senate debated the General Fund Budget after much anticipation among the members. Throughout the day Senators voiced their concerns over taking up other bills while they waited to address the looming budget that cuts state agencies by $200 million.
Senator Arthur Orr, the General Fund Budget Chairman, offered a substitute to the budget passed by the House earlier in the session. Many Senators came to the podium and thanked Senator Orr for doing his best with an underperforming budget and getting them through the process without raising taxes. The Senate ultimately passed the budget 20-13. Although the House approved the changes made in the Senate and the General Fund was sent to the governor, the governor made good on his commitment to veto the budget soon after its passage. The house had time to overturn the governor's veto before adjourning Sine Die. However, with the Senate having adjourned earlier in the day, they did not have an opportunity to also override the governor’s veto, and the 2015 Regular Legislative Session ended without a General Fund Budget for Alabama’s 2016 Fiscal Year, which begins October 1 of this year.
It is widely expected that the governor will call for a special session in August to deal with the General Fund Budget.
The House will meet next Thursday for a legislative work day to begin preparing for the special session. Although they cannot pass any legislation, members and leadership in the House were adamant about coming back for a 30th day while the Senate chose to adjourn early.