Budget calls for un-earmarking education funds to square General Fund

Bill Newton

Alabama Finance Director Bill Newton held a newss conference Tuesday to break down proposals from Gov. Robert Bentley concerning this year’s General Fund and Education Trust Fund (ETF) budgets.

The governor proposed un-earmarking $181 million from the ETF, $150 million from use taxes and $31 million from insurance premium taxes, in an effort to square the General Fund.

This year’s General Fund budget will total $1.93 billion, up from last year’s $1.85 billion budget, and provide a $100 million increase to Medicaid, a $70 million increase to the Department of Corrections, a $10 million increase to the Alabama Department of Public Health and a $5 million increase for the Department of Human Resources.

The budget also calls for a 2.5 percent decrease in funding for the legislative branch, district attorneys, the finance department and the forensic science department, as well as a 5 percent decrease for agriculture and industry, military and the Department of Youth Services.

The proposal also includes a 2 percent cost of living raise for education and state employees, with level funding for state employees’ healthcare at $825 monthly for each employee.

Newton also addressed Bentley’s plan to close all of Alabama’s prisons and open four new facilities, saying the “significant savings” from eliminating the inefficient facilities would pay for the cost of construction, which is slated to be completed within three years.

This year’s ETF will have an appropriation of $6.31 billion, up from last year’s $5.95 billion, of which the $181 million moved to the General Fund will be made up from the Budget Stabilization Fund, one of the state’s two savings accounts.

K12 programs in the state will see an increase to $3.99 billion from last year’s $3.84 billion and an increase for universities from $1 billion last year to $1.08 billion this year.

A new line item includes $40 million to fund the governor’s proposal to provide broadband internet to rural parts of the state.

Additionally, an increase of more than $5 million will be allocated for textbooks, providing about $60 per student.


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