The House Ways and Means Committee approved a slashed general fund budget with deep cuts to state agencies; that happened Thursday after lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on proposed tax bills to fill a shortfall of more than $200 million.
The budget would cut Medicaid, mental health and state prisons corrections by 5% while other state functions would be cut by 9%.
Budget Chairman Steve Clouse says that no one likes the budget but it is the reality without new revenue. Clouse stated that a House GOP proposal to raise $150 million in taxes fell apart after senators sent a message that they wouldn’t support the tax bills.
Meanwhile, a lottery and Casino Bill has cleared its first hurdle in the Alabama Legislature.
The Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee approved that bill Thursday on a five to three vote; the bill seeks to authorize a State Lottery and Las Vegas-type casinos at four existing state dog tracks.
Republican Senate Leader Del Marsh stated that he would like to see gambling and lottery revenue in the state, instead of a new tax increase; three-fifths of legislators and a majority of Alabama voters would have to okay changing the State Constitution to allow gambling.
Alabama voters last rejected the idea of a statewide lottery back in 1999.