According to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, unless the state finds additional revenue – there will be dire consequences with cuts being made to the court system, benefits to poor children and mental health services – with as many as 1,000 state jobs being cut.
The governor is trying to muster support for a $541 million tax increase.
According to an Associated Press report, in a memo sent to each member of the legislature, Bentley described contingency plans of state agencies in response to the draft budget that’s now before lawmakers.
Bentley said that court operations would be hampered by the layoff of 600 employees; the Department of Mental Health would reduce, or end, service for 24,000 people with mental illnesses; the Department of Human Resources would end subsidized daycare benefits for 15,000 children from low-income families. Three hundred adults would lose adult day care benefits and 30,000 children would lose welfare benefits. State troopers would close 13 trooper posts, and lay off 99 of 431 Highway Patrol officers – and the prison system could end up closing two facilities, Red Eagle Honor Farm – along with the Ventress Correctional Facility. Also, 15 of 22 state parks could face closure.
The $1.8 billion Alabama General Fund faces a shortfall of about $290 million in next fiscal year; that according to estimates from the Legislative Fiscal Office. One reason for the grim budget outlook is that a voter-approved fiscal bailout for the General Fund expires at the end of this fiscal year. Voters in 2012 approved taking $145 million a year for three years from a state oil and gas lease trust fund to avoid deep cuts in state services.
Bentley says the state also needs to repay money borrowed from a General Fund Rainy Day account and money owed to the federal government for Medicaid overpayments and faces increased needs in corrections and Medicaid.