By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–The “Evergreen Appropriation” provision funding to keep the doors open and the lights on at Alabama’s State House has been approved and scheduled for a smooth transition next week.
Secretary of the Senate Pat Harris said, “They have put the wheels in motion when we get below the threshold to transfer the money so I can continue to pay whatever vendors, members and all that.”
The provision enacted in the 1980s appears to only have been used once in 1991. It allows the Legislature to appeal to the Director of Finance for additional funding at the end of a fiscal year when its funds drop below $100,000.
Although Harris began planning immediately when proration was announced in April, the funds still are not stretching far enough to the end of the fiscal year. He said, “We will be below the threshold of $100,000 on Tuesday, so we will ask for the first [appropriation].” The appropriation can only be received $500,000 per request. Before a new request can be made the balance must reach the threshold of below $100,000.
Emergency appropriations also are subject to proration. Any amount requested will result in a 10.6 percent reduction of funds.
Harris estimates that it will require $2 million to cover State House expenses during September (approximately $1.8 million after proration). “Probably the next Friday I will have to go back and get some more. I will probably have to go 4 times. We are trying to cut it to 3 but I will probably have to go 4. To get me through the end of the [fiscal] year,” said Harris.
He explained that unlike most appropriations, this one can not carryover a remaining balance if not used. “If there is any left I have to give it back. I can’t carry it over to the next fiscal year like I would normally do a regular appropriation or like somebody who gets a supplemental appropriation. If they have any left over they can carry it over. But, any of this that is not used, I’ll pay back,” said Harris.
The legislative budget covers all of the expenses of the including legislators’ salaries, staff salaries, utilities, office supplies, security, legal fees, etc.