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McClendon Explains Budget Negotiations

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Thursday, September 17, Alabama State Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) spoke to the St. Clair County Republican Party at Moody City Hall less than 24 hours after the state legislature finally passed a State General Fund Budget (SGF) after months of debate and political gamesmanship.

Sen. McClendon said, “I guess the third time is the charm.  In the regular session nobody was giving an inch.  In the Senate we have got a nucleus of folks that say no new taxes probably ever again. There is a group over on this side that want to make every penny of education money sacrosanct.”

McClendon said that there was not much of a break in the dam. “A whole string of tax proposals were sent to us; but, we finally got the job done.”

Sen. McClendon said, “I have been down here 13 years and I have never been in a more contentious environment.” Nobody wants to give an inch.  What happened in the second Special Session we were getting closer to the October 1 deadline.  Education transferred $80 million plus another $50 million on the education side.  They picked up some cash flow (from the weakening of the rainy day reserve).  “Some cash will come to them that they can spend next year.”  On the other side we finally had some agreements in the Senate.  We had always said that cigarette taxes were likely to be what was raised.  We had one of the lowest tobacco tax rates in the country, not now.

Sen. McClendon said, “We never knew what the Democrats were going to do.”  Basically, the Democrats said throughout the session that they would like the sejim_tabletssion to be doomed.  They wanted to be able to say that Republicans are in charge and they can’t govern.

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Sen. McClendon said that Medicaid was funded.  The courts got level funded.  State Representative Jim Hill (R-Odenville) helped save the courts.  “My serious effort was on Medicaid. There are over 101 agencies.  Most of those agencies will see a five percent cut.  In the last five years we have cut 5,500 people from the State payroll.  We are intentionally remaining tight on those budgets.  We are trying to reduce the work force even further.  Nobody has come to me and said that they can no longer get state services so those 5,500 people were probably not necessary.”

McClendon said, “I am proud to say people came together. Nobody is happy about what we did. No state agencies are going to close.”

During the debate Governor Robert Bentley had threatened to close as many as eleven State parks.

Sen. McClendon said that will not happen; but some State parks could still close.  A number of State parks were started by counties and cities.  They lost money on them so they turned them over to the State.  Some of those smaller parks may be going back.  “I don’t expect any decrease in services.”

 

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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