Budget Battle: What it means to remove earmarks

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT ) - The State of the State address will help set the course for the debate over Alabama's budget.

The governor has proposed new taxes.  Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) made a big ordeal that he will "not let that happen."

However, the pair seem to agree on one tactic.

Holtzclaw mentioned in a media conference Monday that he was on the same page as the governor as far as removing earmarks in the state. He says that's a big part of fixing the problem.

Earmarking money means that you set aside revenue for a specific reason. Removing those earmarks is far from a silver bullet.

WHNT News 19 Political Analyst Jess Brown explains, "If you un-earmark then you give to the legislature more freedom about whether they chose to spend the money for Service A or Service B."

But you're still dealing with a finite amount of money. Unfortunately, Alabama's General Fund requires more money than it generates. Freeing the legislature up to move that money around may help address priorities first, but it cannot fix the problem.

Brown elaborates, "Un-earmarking the revenue allows them to move existing money around on the table. It does not generate new money for them."

Once you remove the earmarks, you still have to make significant cuts to the government or raise taxes to address the budget shortfall.

However, there is another more drastic option. Remove the earmarks for funds set aside for education. Essentially take the money from school systems to plug the leak in the general fund.

There is no way out of this budget crisis that doesn't involve hard choices.

Watch the video to understand how this tactic would work if it was your own grocery budget.

Related: Read the text of Gov. Bentley's 2015 State of the State Address