The Alabama Senate narrowly passed a budget that slashes millions of dollars from Medicaid, mental health, law enforcement and nearly all other state agencies.
Senators voted 19-15 for the cut-filled budget yesterday after lawmakers failed to agree on how to fix a $200 million budget shortfall during the special session. The new budget is identical to the one passed at the end of the regular session and then vetoed by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.
Legislators rejected Gov. Bentley's call for $302 million in new taxes. The currently proposed plan cuts nearly $200 million from state agencies.
Some lawmakers say the cuts will have devastating consequences for the state if the budget is enacted. But Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said most senators did not want to put any new taxes on Alabama families.
Bentley has indicated that he plans to call a second special session, but hasn’t said when. The new fiscal year begins October 1, and state agencies are still without a spending plan.
Prosecutors in the case against Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard are opposing his request to delay his October trial. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports, Hubbard is facing ethics charges.
The attorney general's office told a judge that there's no legitimate reason to push back the trial scheduled for October 19th. In a court filing, prosecutors say the public deserved a resolution in the case.
Hubbard's lawyers asked for a delay, saying there were unresolved legal issues in the case and problems with discovery.
Hubbard was indicted last year on 23 felony ethics charges for personal gain. He has maintained his innocence.
The House speaker also says he might challenge the constitutionality of the state ethics law. Prosecutors say Hubbard has had plenty of time to file such a challenge and they accused his defense of stalling.
The American Cancer Society released a new state-by-state report on cancer care and prevention, and Alabama didn’t fare well.
The state received passing marks in only two of nine categories in the Cancer Society’s thirteenth annual report called “How Do You Measure Up?”. That study measures cancer patients’ access to care, quality of care, as well as statewide cancer prevention efforts.
Ginny Campbell is the Alabama government relations director for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. She says Alabama needs to do more to encourage residents not to smoke.
“Overall, we’re not doing well in the tobacco area. We’ve not been able to pass a statewide smoke-free law, our prevention funding is really low, and Medicaid doesn’t cover tobacco cessation except for pregnant women. So we’re really falling behind in that area.”
Williamson says an increase in the cigarette tax would help. The state legislature recently shot down a 25 cent per pack increase. The American Cancer Society is advocating for a tax hike of a dollar a pack.