Alabama House & Senate pass general fund budget, Governor Bentley expected to sign it

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama House and Senate both approved a general fund budget after lawmakers this week ended a seven-month deadlock on revenue.

Senators on Wednesday night voted 23-9 for the spending plan. The House of Representatives could give final approval to the budget Wednesday night.

Senate budget chairman Arthur Orr says the budget will avoid deep reductions to critical state agencies.

The budget gives level funding to Medicaid, prisons, mental health services, the Department of Human Resources, the Department of Pardons and Paroles and the court system. Other agencies will see cuts. Lawmakers for months have struggled over a $200 million budget shortfall.

Lawmakers this week approved a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax and a transfer of $80 million in education funds to help cover the projected gap.

Governor Bentley released this statement shortly after:

“We have made tremendous progress to fundamentally change the way our state budgets. Tonight is an important step forward in that process. I commend House and Senate members, including Speaker Hubbard, Pro Tem Marsh and Budget Chairmen Clouse and Orr, for prioritizing people over politics. I also want to thank members of the House and Senate who courageously voted to increase revenue for the General Fund. I will carefully review the budget once it is received by my office, and I expect to sign it.”

What exactly is and isn't funded in the new budget?  WHNT News 19 is working to get specific information right now.  Please check WHNT.com and our social media sites throughout the day for updates.