2015 Legislative Session: Lawmakers gather in Montgomery amid massive budget shortfall

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) - The 2015 Legislative Session begins Tuesday in Montgomery and it promises to be a difficult one for state lawmakers especially in regard to the budget.

The clock starts ticking immediately following the start of the session at 12 p.m.  The session is just three months long and before it's over, state lawmakers must pass two balanced budgets: one for education and one for the general fund.  That's always easier said than done.  This year, there won't be anything easy about it with the state facing a $700 million shortfall, $250 million of that is just for the general fund.

Governor Robert Bentley has proposed a tax increase, including a hike on the cigarette tax and new car sales, to get Alabama out of this hole.  Many of the governor's Republican colleagues in the legislature are adamantly opposed.

"We need to find some lasting solutions, but by the same token we have to be very reluctant about going deeper and deeper and deeper into working folks' pockets," said Rep. Mike Ball of Madison.

Governor Bentley will deliver his State of the State Address at 6:30 p.m.  We'll stream it LIVE on WHNT.com.

During the address, we can expect to hear more on the governor's case for the tax increase.