Budget Takes Center Stage As Legislative Session Wraps Up

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With one day left in the legislative session, one thing weighs most heavily on the shoulders of state lawmakers: the budget.

"We basically fell off the stimulus cliff this year. The stimulus dollars have dried up," said Senator Arthur Orr, a District 3 Republican. "We had one time money for fiscal year 2012 that's drive up. So here we are in fiscal year 2013, what is about a $500 million year over year shortfall."

Even if lawmakers can come to an agreement, Governor Bentley could still choose to veto their budget. Orr says a special session is not unlikely.

Despite these concerns, Orr is proud of the work the Senate has done in the past few months, particularly in regards to economic development.

"It's certainly something I hope reaps a dividend for the people of Alabama, by increasing employment and having more businesses choose to move to the state," said Orr.

Orr says the Senate has passed a number of bills this session meant to make Alabama more appealing to developers and businesses who might have their eye on the state.

However one such tax incentive bill never made it to the Senate floor for debate. It would allow for the companies to keep a portion of the state income taxes withdrawn from employees.

"The problem the bill had was it allowed for retention projects. So, in other words, a business could say 'to retain these jobs we need some incentive dollars'," said Orr. "And there was a real fear that could be abused perhaps, by future governors and public officials."

He believes a revised version of the bill could come up again in the future.

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