State auditor Jim Zeigler says if BP bill fails, special session will be ‘complete waste’

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The Alabama Legislature returns Tuesday to continue a special session, which began last month.

In July, Gov. Robert Bentley called the special session to consider a lottery to fund state’s perennial budget shortfall. Lawmakers have also used the session to mull over what to do with the state’s allotment BP settlement funds.

While the lottery plan failed to pass before an Aug. 26 deadline to have it included on the November general election ballot, when lawmakers return Tuesday they will still have three days to finalize what to do with BP settlement funds before the end of the special session.

The BP settlement plan, if enacted, it will apply $448 million to repay state debts and nearly $200 million to Baldwin and Mobile counties, which were directly impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler has taken an otherwise quiet news day to remind Alabama’s lawmakers what’s at stake in the final days of special session.

“If a compromise bill to allocate $850 million in BP settlement funds is not enacted, the current special session will be a complete waste of taxpayers’ money,” Zeigler said in a Labor Day news release.

According to Zeigler, the special session is costing taxpayers roughly $350,000.

“The governor did not do his homework on the lottery bill, and it was a badly flawed bill. The lottery bill died in the state Senate,” Zeigler said. “That leaves only the BP bill to keep the session from being a total failure. Even if the BP compromise passes, that could have been done in the regular session — and almost was.”

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