April 22, 2016
The Alabama Legislature met for three legislative days in Montgomery this week. The House will reconvene on Tuesday April 26th at 1:00pm and the Senate will reconvene the same day at 1:00pm.
Next week the legislature will meet for three legislative days, and the next week they are expected to end session on the 29th or 30th legislative day.
Legislature Approves Education Trust Fund, Governor Expected To Sign
This week the Alabama Legislature gave final approval to the $6.3 billion Education Trust Fund, the largest education budget since the recession which began in 2008. Along with the budget, the legislature gave approval to give teachers and most other education employees a 4 percent cost of living raise. School funding dipped by more than a billion dollars after a peak of $6.7 billion from the ETF in 2008. Most of the money comes from income and sales taxes. After its passage, the governor released a statement praising the passage of the teacher pay raise bill and is expected to sign both the budget and teacher pay raise.
Historic Tax Credit To End, Medicaid Shortfall Looms
A tax incentive credited with fueling the recent revitalization of aging buildings in downtown Birmingham and Mobile will expire next month. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said the legislation authorizing an extension of the state's historic tax credit would not move until there is a better understanding of its financial implications. Marsh said he was concerned about the budget impact on the initial three years of the tax credit program, which doled out up to $20 million a year to developers willing to take on revitalization projects of aging or historic structures.
Members of the legislature met Wednesday to hear a presentation by Alabama Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar who presented an overview of the agencies funding and spending. Medicaid asked for an additional $100 million in state funding but only got $15 million. The Legislature formed the committee as a way to gather data and learn more about the functions of the agency. Medicaid consumes about 38 percent of the General Fund budget. Commissioner Azar has warned that the state may cut adult prescription drugs, outpatient dialysis and hospice care for patients. The cuts could also force Medicaid to remove a primary care bump for physicians that keeps reimbursement rates close to Medicare levels. Getting rid of that could force many providers out of the program. Medicaid has not ruled out additional reimbursement cuts after the primary care bump.