Budget process hits monetary roadblock

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 8, 2003

The Alabama Legislature is in special session for the purpose of adopting state budgets.

The fiscal year in Alabama runs from October 1 to September 30.

Therefore, this is the last week before the end of the fiscal year and budgets must be passed in order to pay for state services.

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Unlike the federal government which can pass a continuing resolution and actually operate without a budget, Alabama, under the terms of our Constitution, must have a budget in place or else payroll and services cease.

The Legislature made very little progress toward passing these budgets last week but I anticipate accomplishing the task before October 1.

The difficulty lies in the allocation of monies which are in such short supply that no program of state government can

properly be funded unless it is at the expense of another program.

The education budget, which is one of two state budgets, started in the Senate and the general fund budget started in the House of Representatives.

Both bills came out of committee last week but stalled when they reached the floor for a final vote.

Differences centered on whether to shift money from non-state agencies to boost spending on public school textbooks, classroom supplies, and remedial education.

At first glance, you would think this is a no brainer.

However, there are several non-state agencies, such as the water and soil conservation program, historical sites, public library programs, museums with irreplaceable artifacts, programs to prevent child and spouse abuse, and many other "non-state agency" programs which would be completely eliminated if they did not receive some state funding.

So I hope you can see that it is not just a simple thing to allocate funds when there is not sufficient monies to meet critical needs.

I did take off Saturday to spend some personal time and I chose to go to the Troy State University football game.

This turned out to be quite a treat.

TSU inaugurated its new stadium, and I can tell you it is a "class act."

The playing field is absolutely beautiful, the stadium seating is very comfortable, and the sky boxes offer a great opportunity for visiting and enjoying a football game.

It is my understanding that the Blue-Gray game will be played this year at the TSU field, and this should make quite an impression on a national audience.

This project is just another example of Dr. Jack Hawkins outstanding leadership at his fine school.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing

to P.O. Box 225, Luverne, AL 36049.