Senate Passes General Fund Budget

May 5, 2017

State senators approved a general fund budget last night after a long and at times contentious debate.

The budget passed the Senate 23 to 4. The House of Representatives had previously approved the $1.8 billion spending plan, but the bill will now head back to the house to decide whether representatives will go along with mostly minor Senate changes.

Senators rejected an amendment that would have cut funding for the vast majority of state agencies by more than 3 percent in order to boost highway spending. They argued the state’s crowded prison system and cash-strapped Medicaid system couldn’t handle a cut.

Lawmakers are also working to keep about $90 million in available state funds in reserve. Alabama is about to exhaust its oil spill settlement funding that currently is propping up the Medicaid budget, and legislators are unsure what budgetary changes the Trump administration may bring.

The Senate also eliminated funding for Serve Alabama, a small state agency that became involved in the scandal surrounding former Governor Robert Bentley.

The agency coordinates volunteer services and had previously been led by Jon Mason under Gov. Robert Bentley. Bentley resigned last month amid an impeachment push in the fallout of an alleged affair with Mason's wife.