August 7, 2015
Legislative Days 2-6
The Alabama Legislature met this week for the 2nd – 6th legislative days in the Special Session called by Governor Bentley earlier this summer to find solutions for the General Fund Budget. In June the legislature failed to override the Governor’s veto of the General Fund Budget which made this special session necessary to pass a budget before the beginning of the 2016 fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2015.
After the Governor initially made the call for the special session legislators took a 3 week break to try and organize and find solutions to the projected shortfalls. However, many legislators vowed that the solution to the budget would not include tax increases proposed by the Governor, but instead should rely on more cuts to state government. This week both the House and Senate met for 5 straight days in session and in committees exploring ways to fund state government. A number of earmarking reforms, revenue generating measures, and budget reforms have been introduced, but the legislature has struggled to find consensus on any of the measures.
The Senate is scheduled to return Monday August 10 at 12pm and the House is scheduled to come back the same day at 5pm.
House Votes To Cut Medicaid By $156 Million To Fund State Government
On Wednesday the House took up HB 1, the General Fund Budget Appropriations Bill that included cutting the Medicaid Agency by $156 Million in order to fund state government services. While the bill initially failed in the House, shortly after the bill was reconsidered and passed 46-44. After its passage, Governor Bentley released this report outlining what cuts would be necessary across state government if the bill was enacted.
Senate Committee Rejects House Budget Proposal, Passes Budget From Regular Session
When the budget proposal passed by the House was assigned to the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee, few thought it would have a chance of surviving. Many senators voiced their displeasure with the cuts to Medicaid included in the bill. On Friday, Senator Arthur Orr, Chairman of the General Fund Committee, offered a substitute to the House passed budget that was identical to the budget passed by the Senate during the Regular Legislative Session, a bill that was eventually vetoed by Governor Bentley. Senator Orr described his substitute as a vehicle to move forward with to find a solution to the budget shortfall.
On Friday, the Senate adjourned in the early afternoon and scheduled to come back on Monday. Meanwhile, it was being discussed in the House that they could potentially work through the weekend to find a solution knowing that their budget proposal was largely rejected by the members of the Senate General Fund Committee. Tensions are running high among the members as the clock runs out on this special session, which ends Tuesday. Many are predicting that the Governor will veto whatever budget they may be able to send to him by Tuesday, and that he will call them back in for another special session before October 1.