The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state general fund budget, HB152, on Tuesday. HB152 is sponsored by House Ways and Means Chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark. HB152 passed 103 to 0.
The House also passed HB166, sponsored by the late Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery, to give state employees a 2 percent cost of living allowance. There was no bonus for retired employees.
State Rep. Kelvin Lawrence, D-Hayneville, handled HB166 on the House floor after Polizos unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack.
Lawrence said the pay raise bill has a fiscal note of $40 million. HB166 passed 103 to 0. Chairman Clouse said the budget is “a process. It is like putting a big puzzle together.”
The state has one budget for the state general fund and a second budget for education, the education trust fund. The state also has billions of dollars in off the budget funding from other sources and billions in federal matching dollars.
The 2020 fiscal year SGF budget that passed the House funds the SGF $2,145,825,797. The FY 2019 SGF was $2,054.901,265 and the 2018 SGF was just over $1.9 billion.
The Alabama Department of Corrections will receive $517,053,750 in the 2020 general fund budget. The budget includes additional money to offer more money for prison guards in order to recruit and retain more guards. ADOC hopes to hire an additional 500 guards. The federal government has recently cited the state for its chronically underfunded and understaffed prisons.
The Alabama Department of Mental Health received $127,929,306 in the SGF.
The Alabama Medicaid Agency was budgeted $703,419,531, a substantial decrease from 2019 due to the improving economy and some one time money from a tobacco settlement.
Rep. Kerry Rich said there are not enough beds for the mentally ill.
“We are not going to pass any new taxes,” Rich said. “If we are going to fix it, it is with a lottery. That will bring in $100 million, maybe $150 million. If we did a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians that would bring in $850 million a year.”
Clouse said he is proposing carrying over $105 million from the 2020 fiscal year budget to the 2021 fiscal year budget because he anticipates that the state will have to increase its funding of the Children Health Insurance Program by over $70 million and will need more funding for Medicaid.
“We know that we are going to have to come up with at least $110 million more next year for CHIP and Medicaid,” Clouse said.
“Down the road there is a dinosaur waiting to eat us up,” said State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham. “We got to bite the bullet to put the money in the general fund to help the people of Alabama.”
State Representative Artis “A.J.”McCampbell, D-Livingston, said the state has been given 60 days to present a plan to address the federal government’s concerns about Alabama’s prison system.
“We are now considered to have the most violent prison system in the country,” said State Rep. Christopher John England, D-Tuscaloosa.
“Mega prisons are absolutely not the way to go,” England said. “If the current leadership remains in place they are going to be as dangerous and as poorly run as they are now. The same person who has been in charge the last four years should not be given a billion dollars to spend on new prisons.”
England warned the Ivey administration will get us tied into a private prison lease agreement that we will never be able to get out of.
“We don’t know what the governor is going to ask to build the new prisons,” said State Rep. Napoleon Bracy, D-Prichard. “We have got to get some revenue from somewhere.”
Rogers said there is not enough money in an Alabama lottery. He suggested legalizing sports betting and possibly raising property taxes in order to better fund prisons and expand Medicaid.
Clouse said expanding Medicaid would cost the state general fund budget $168 million a year.
“When there are 200 prisoners to one guard, who is really running the prisons? The prisoners are,” Rogers said. “You can’t give a man enough money to risk his life.”
Reporters asked Clouse how many new prison guards will be hired and how much the pay will be raised for guards.
“The goal is to hire the 500,” Clouse said. “The goal is a 20 percent pay raise.”
“What is the cost of building three new prisons?” Clouse said. “We are waiting to see if that is feasible and if that is the way the governor wants to go.”
“The governor has been very communicative with the legislative leadership to try to find an answer on this,” Clouse said. “We have got to see what the cost is. There are a lot of concerns about the cost of lease deal.”
Clouse said the increase for ADOC this year will be to “try to secure more staff, security and hiring more mental health professionals.”
“It has been very difficult to find employees in this environment,” he said.
Clouse also said Medicaid will need $40 million more next year, 2021, and the CHIP will need $70 million more, and that is before any additional needs from Corrections or Mental Health.
Clouse told reporters he was happy to be able to offer a pay increase to state employees.
“That was certainly not on our radar four or five months ago, plus we were able to keep insurance rates from going up,” Clouse said.
Business Council of Alabama Small Business Exchange on APT tonight
The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) will present the Small Business Exchange on Alabama Public Television (APT) tonight, Thursday, April 9. This event is designed to help small businesses applying for federal stimulus funding under the new CARES Act.
In partnership with APT, BCA will bring together experts in business, banking, accounting, and law to answer phone calls from Alabama business owners and employers as they grapple with the impact of the coronavirus on the state’s economy. New federal loans are now available for small businesses, but funding is limited in some cases and quick action is required.
The Small Business Exchange program airs tonight on APT from 7-8 p.m. BCA experts will be available to answer questions from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. tonight. In addition, experts will be available for consultation from 9.a.m. to noon tomorrow, Friday, April 10.
To ask a question or consult with our BCA experts during these times, the phone number is 1-833-BCA4BIZ (1-833-222-4249).
Manufacture Alabama launches “Ask the Experts” webinar
Ask the Experts: Employment Law Questions Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic is a new webinar being offered by Manufacture Alabama.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, disrupting the lives of everyone around our state, country, and the globe, employers are left with many questions and Manufacture Alabama wants to answer them.
Manufacture Alabama is the only trade association in the state dedicated exclusively to the competitive, legislative, regulatory, and operational interests and needs of manufacturers and their partner industries and businesses.
Manufacture Alabama has enlisted some of the top labor and employment attorneys in Alabama to bring you the first installment of a web series, ‘Ask the Experts.’ In the first installment, their experts will be answering your questions about implementing the new CARES Act Leave guidelines, and best practices for what to do if you have an employee test positive for COVID-19.
The attorneys will also be covering questions whether they are questions related to OSHA standards, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or the impact of the CARES Act, or anything else labor or employment-related.
Manufacture Alabama also wants to hear stories of the changes manufacturers have experienced in the workplace as a result of the pandemic, and how businesses have changed day to day operations.
Send your questions and responses regarding these topics to [email protected] and stay tuned.
The webinar will be published Tuesday, April 14.
Ainsworth unveils website for small businesses seeking information during pandemic
Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth unveiled a new web page Monday designed to provide small business owners with a one-stop information hub during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and forced economic shutdown.
The website is www.atlasalabama.gov.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is already providing small business owners with unprecedented challenges and frustrations, so they should not have to struggle to find the information necessary to survive in the current economic climate,” Ainsworth said. “As new small business programs are announced and revised health orders go into effect, the website will be updated in order to provide the most timely and accurate information possible.”
The website was created by the Alabama Small Business Commission, which Ainsworth chairs. The site provides information related to Small Business Administration loans and assistance, unemployment claims, tax relief programs, and other timely initiatives.
The website is intended to help small businesses remain in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines and protocols. The website also provides links to every state, county, and municipal health order currently being enforced in Alabama.
The Legislature placed the Alabama Small Business Commission under the authority of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office in 2019.
The 22-member commission is tasked with formulating “policies encouraging innovation of small businesses in the state” and advising the Department of Commerce in promoting small businesses within Alabama.
On March 12, the rapidly spreading coronavirus strain, SARS-CoV-2, led President Donald J. Trump (R) to order a forced economic shutdown on March 12. Those original orders have subsequently been strengthened by Gov. Kay Ivey (R), culminating in a statewide shelter in place order on Friday.
Realizing that with most of their businesses shut down through at least April 30, Congress passed and the President signed the CARES Act, which provides low interest loans to hundreds of thousands of struggling small businesses. If the businesses use the money to make payroll and to pay other business overhead costs the loans will be forgiven.
Currently, there are 2,113 Alabamians with confirmed cases of COVID-19. 64 Alabamians have died and 271 are currently in the hospital. 20 Alabamians have recovered from their illness and been cleared by their doctors. The global pandemic has infected more than 1,441,589 people globally and killed 82,933, including 7,380 people just on Tuesday (1,970 of them were Americans). Gov. Ivey’s shelter in place order is in effect through April 30, but that is likely to be extended.
Businesses applying for aid can receive proof of existence from secretary of state’s office
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said Monday that federal resources have been made available to support businesses during the coronavirus pandemic to assist with tax relief, employee protection and benefits, loans and grants, and many other challenges that business owners may encounter during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Merrill’s office explained that in order to be eligible for this federal aid, some corporations and businesses may be required to prove their existence as part of their application. Certificates of Existence can be obtained through visiting the Alabama Secretary of State’s website.
Business owners can apply online to receive their Certificate of Existence electronically for immediate processing. The non-subscriber fee is $28 and will allow a user to download their copy for up to 15 days.
If you are completing the request for a Certificate of Existence by paper, you may access the application here.
The form must be typed and will not be accepted via email.
Once completed, mail the application, along with the $25 filing fee, to:
Secretary of State’s Business Services Division
P.O. Box 5616,
Montgomery, Alabama 36103
Those who apply online will not receive a mailed copy. Rather, a copy can be downloaded online and then printed out.
Certificates of Existence are only available for businesses who have previously filed for formation with the Secretary of State’s Office. If you have not yet filed, you are still able to do so through the Secretary of State’s website
This documentation may also be required to process loan applications by lending institutions, banks, credit unions, farm credit, or public accountants.
For questions or more information, contact the Secretary of State’s Business Services Division at (334) 242-7221 or (334) 242-5324.
Thousands of Alabama businesses have been forced to close by orders from the state as well as local health departments. Many businessmen and women are having to make the difficult decision on whether or not to continue to make payroll. The aid under the CARES Act is a lifeline to businesses that the federal government is offering during this unprecedented period of economic crisis.
The forced economic shutdown was deemed necessary by state and federal government authorities in consultation with public health experts in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus strain, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19. The COVID-19 global pandemic has already killed 12,857 Americans and 82,993 people globally. 1,050,077 people around the globe are still struggling through active cases of the illness, including 395,981 Americans.
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