Nerves fray for local agencies as special session for budget looms

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - With the senate calling it quits on the regular session, forcing a special session, First Stop's Executive Director Clete Wetli confides, "It truly is fight or die time right now."

He helps over see the resource center for the homeless, and he worries about how much he'll be able to help if mental health care takes another cut.

Over at the Madison County Courthouse, they face another potential budget slash after years and years of the same.

Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard points out, "To put it in perspective, when I became DA, which was six years ago, my state budget was more than twice what it is  now."

At  First Stop the same worries ramp up with the intensity of the legislative session. Wetli says, "I am more worried now, because I think what they're going to do is kick the can down the road again, rather than addressing things at a very structural level."

With everything on the line in special session, the people with the most to lose have different approaches.

Broussard explains, "I have to be concerned with the overall well-being of the office, including financial well-being. But I also realize there's not that much I can do on a day-to-day basis"

But Wetli says, "I think it's really important for people to contact their legislators, let them know how important it is for us to fund mental health. Let them know how important it is to fund substance abuse treatment. Let them know how important it is to fund our courts."

Both say they just want to go back to doing their jobs.

Broussard phrases it, "When I get up in the morning and go into the office, I'm not thinking about finances. I'm thinking more and more about the day-to-day operation of what we're doing and this murder victim's family that's going to court today because they're going to have a trial."

He hopes he can keep his focus there.