By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, April 16, the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) addressed reporters about the budgets and the 2015 Legislative Session. In that conversation the subject of the possibility of court ordered redistricting and new legislative elections came up.
Hubbard said that he was absolutely confident that there would be no special elections before 2016 and there is a “very high probability it will not happen at all.”
Speaker Hubbard said that if you read the Supreme Court ruling the Court did not throw out the State’s redistricting plan.
The Speaker said that the case was sent back to the lower court on a “technicality.” “I don’t think it (a court ordered new redistricting) will happen.” We passed pre-clearance by the Justice Department. I believe we will prevail.
Speaker Hubbard said that there has been a lot of progress on the budgets. We, Senate President Del Marsh and I, had a “very productive meeting with the Governor (Bentley) on Tuesday.” The Speaker said that there was also a productive meeting with the Caucus this week as well as a good meeting with the leadership and that he felt they were close to working something out on the General Fund budget. Hubbard said that the work would continue behind the scenes over the weekend and that the legislature was looking, “at a lot of different options.”
The Alabama Speaker said that the legislature would look at more government consolidations before considering tax increases.
Speaker Hubbard said that they had considered filing a bill combining the Office of Tourism and ADECA into the Commerce Department but did not after the Governor objected. “We try to work with the Governor whenever we can.”
Hubbard said that they could still file the bill. “We have too many cabinet level positions.”
When asked if the legislators or the public believed the seriousness of the situation, Speaker Hubbard said, “No they do not,” especially the new legislators who have not been here long. “The public does not believe it.” Hubbard attributed that to recent history where, We have beed able to, “Pull a rabbit out of a hat” to avoid the dire predictions.
Two bills the Speaker identified as key bills are: the changes to the Alabama Accountability Act and the changes to the 2 year college governance. Hubbard said that he liked the Accountability Act but the new legislation, “Made it even better.”
The Speaker said that the house did pass some key bills this week including two that were part of the House Republican Agenda for 2015.
The Alabama Political Reporter asked: we are debating whether to raise taxes or make cuts; but if you look at the General Fund Budget most of the problem is Medicaid. It is growing at $110 million this year….that is almost have the $261 million budget shortfall. If it continues growing at that rate, then whatever we do won’t we be back in the same situation in just two or three years?
Speaker Hubbard said yes Medicaid and prisons. “If it (Medicaid) keeps growing at $100 million a year we can’t sustain that.”