Robert Bentley stresses major budget cuts will ensue without quick remedy

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Gov. Robert Bentley continued his crusade against the Legislature’s current budget Wednesday, issuing an announcement detailing severe cuts to Lee County unless the tax increases he is proposing — or perhaps recent a gambling expansion measure he omitted from mention — are adopted as part of an overall budget approach.

“We are facing a tremendous crisis in our General Fund Budget that will impact every Alabama county if not addressed by the Legislature,” Bentley said in a prepared statement Wednesday afternoon.

Specifically, the governor’s office said that Lee County — home to the city of Opelika and the college town surrounding Auburn University — would face harsh consequences, including the loss of temporary public assistance from the Department of Human Services for 405 children, layoffs for 15 court system employees, possible closing of the Lee County Armory and the Opelika Trooper Post, one of 13 Alabama state trooper posts.

“I am committed to finding new revenue so our state agencies can continue to provide essential services to Alabamians. For decades, we have failed to address the way our non-education state agencies are funded,” Bentley said.

“With no one-time money available to support the General Fund and debts that are owed, we have a real crisis on our hands. I encourage the residents of Lee County to let their elected representatives know that these cuts are unacceptable and will hurt the people in in Lee County.”

Auburn University at Montgomery recently published a study which bolsters Sen. Del Marsh‘s proposal to allow a lottery and a handful of casinos across the state.

The study suggested that such an expansion of gambling could help solve the $250 million state budget shortfall currently projected in during the next fiscal year.

An initiative to do so is in the works in the Legislature, where Republican House budget chief Rep. Steve Clouse has joined 23 House Democrats in co-sponsoring an agreement that would call for a constitutional amendment that would make Alabama the 45th state in the nation to adopt some form of state lottery.

The effort was the subject of a press conference convened Tuesday by Marsh.

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