HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama’s 2016 legislative session is underway and there is a lot of work to be accomplished in order to pass a budget. Last year it took one regular session and two special sessions before we arrived at a budget. This week Dr. Jess Brown, a Professor at Athens State University and WHNT News 19’s Political Analyst, stopped by to give his predictions for this year’s legislative session.
“The more things change, the more they remain the same,” says Dr. Brown. That’s his first analysis for the 2016 legislative session. “The huge green, 300-pound gorillas that were in the room last year and for some extent the year before and the year before, are still in the room. And that is the general fund continues to hemorrhage, and there’s the usual debate yin and yang about do we have the money and too much waste, fraud and spending, or do we have enough money for the critical services supplied for the general fund. There’s the debate about the lottery and there’s the debate about Medicaid funding and it’s going to be merely 156-million dollars short this year and there’s the question about expanding Medicaid. So for a guy that’s looked at it for as long as I have, the more things change, the more they are the same.”
The biggest issue that the State seems to have would be that we don’t have enough revenue streams to pay for everything that want to fund. Are there any new ideas on the agenda for hopeful funds? “We could use the term useful thinking.” says Brown. “It’s the same old problem. The people who believe there’s not enough revenue will not come forward with any revenue programs of substance. With the exception of the gambling option, and they don’t seem to have enough consensus for the gambling option. And the people who think there is plenty of money, but waste, fraud, and abuse. The typical line about they don’t spend the money efficiently or even lawfully. Those people never seem to come forward with a list of where exactly all this waste, fraud, and abuse, so that we can fix the problem…Basically the legislature is slowly beginning to show signs year after year of managing money pretty much just like the Democrats did when they ran the place.”
View our entire conversation with Dr. Jess Brown here in three parts: