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Alabama budget surplus may wind up in your pocket

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Alabama lawmakers are eyeing possible tax rebates as the state sees a $3 billion dollar budget surplus. Democratic lawmakers in Alabama have long called for Medicaid expansion, arguing it would bring health care coverage to more than three hundred thousand people. Sen. Arthur Orr chairs the Senate education budget committee. He says lawmakers are working on a proposal, but he expects that plan to include rebate checks to taxpayers. He said the proposal would provide up to $250 to individuals and double that for married couples who file their taxes jointly. The state budget that funds education has a nearly three billion dollar surplus. The Legislative Services Agency says the state general fund has a $351 million dollar surplus.

The Associated Press reported in August that at least fifteen states have approved one-time rebates from their surpluses. There has been disagreement among lawmakers on how to use the rare surplus, with some lawmakers calling for expansion of Medicaid. Alabama is one of only 11 states that did not expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act to provide health care coverage to low-income people, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Many of Alabama’s poor are in working families who don't have health insurance through their jobs. Republicans, who hold a lopsided majority in the Alabama Legislature, have so far opposed expansion.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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