Huntsville, Ala. (WHNT) – The State of Alabama has now had one regular session and one special session, but there is still no General Fund Budget for the 2016 fiscal year. Soon there will be a second special session to try to get a budget agreement. WHNT News 19’s political analyst Jess Brown stopped by this week to give his perspective on what may happen in that session.
Now the question on everyone’s mind is, just where are we in the budget process? “Based on my conversations with lobbyists and two or three legislators, the house and the house leadership can probably work with the governor to band aid together an acceptable general fund budget for house leadership and the governor. Producing 18 of 35 votes in the Senate is still a problem.” Jess Brown Explains that, “Exactly how you band aid, even create a band aid to get you through the next fiscal year could be a bit of a problem in the state senate. But as each day passes in this matter, the governor gets more and more leverage, because October one gets closer and closer. And I am convinced if there’s a serious shutdown of general fund agencies, or a serious degradation of services, ultimately the legislature will be more to blame than the governor.”
A big part of the problem is the disagreement between the governor and the legislature on whether to raise taxes or cut funding for numerous programs. The governor is not backing down on his ideas for a budget and has vetoed one already that called for 185-million in cuts. “The closer we get to the fiscal year the more power the governor has. The implication is they’re going to pass a budget rather than have a shutdown, but I’m not sure that every senator is too worried about that,” claims Jess Brown. “As October one gets closer and closer and those senators begin to hear from some, certain constituency groups back home, that some of those Senators might sign on to a little bit of a bargain that might include voting for a couple of non controversial revenue measures, maybe a cigarette tax. But then maybe borrow 150 to 250-million dollars from school reserves, something of that sort.”
Some members of the legislature have stated that they will refuse to pass a budget with any tax increases. “Some of the things those senators said in April, when it gets to be September 25th, or close to the October 1st beginning of the fiscal year, some of them will hold their noses, or grit their teeth, and they’ll vote for something a little different.” Jess Brown predicts.
View our entire conversation with Jess Brown here: