Madison County, Ala. (WHNT) – It is no secret in the State of Alabama that our legislature has problems when it comes to passing a budget. After one regular session and two special sessions a General Fund budget, that was still short many millions of dollars, was finally passed. This week Representative Mac McCutcheon (R) dropped in at WHNT News 19 to give his perspective on how the process needs to change.
“I would have questions as to how the state government is spending the money,” said McCutcheon. “I would have questions about, is there a surplus? I would look at the taxes that I’d be paying as a taxpayer, and just asking the question, what are you doing with my money?”
The final budget is around 85 million dollars short so we will be in the same dilemma next year. Another legitimate question is what can our legislators do to change this for next year? “I think that we’ve got to take a serious look at some true budget reforms,” explained Rep. McCutcheon. “Now, as we look at our state budget, these are some things that I saw in the regular session and the two special sessions that I think are very serious. They’re going to be problems that need to be solved, but the fight and the battle is going to be very difficult. One is that we have a high, high percentage of our tax dollars that are earmarked. We’re looking at 80-percent plus that are earmarked.”
Most of those earmarked dollars are in the Education Budget. There are two types of earmarks, constitutional and statutory. “There would have to be a vote of the people to change the constitution to remove those earmarks. There are some statutory earmarks that we could look at. One of the problems when we look at earmarks and education is that over the years there’s been several agencies that have tried to get their funding out of the education budget and the reason being, it’s more secure and it’s been more protected over the years. So, if we’re going to take a look at un-earmarking, we’re going to have to take a look at what education is funding, and start with the basics of our schools, our k through 12 schools and the funding that needs to go to the classroom. We’re got to take a look at that money and ask if the money there is it constitutional or is it statutory? And then start looking at the other agencies involved in the education budget, and see if those agencies could be moved out, and some of those earmarks taken off. ”
View our entire conversation with Rep. Mac McCutcheon in three parts here: