Saturday, State Senator James “Jabo” Waggoner Jr., R-Vestavia Hills, told the Mid Alabama Republican Club (MARC) that the Education Trust Fund (ETF) will be $500 million greater in the 2021 budget than in the 2020.
“Revenue in the education budget is up over $500 million because the economy is booming,” Waggoner said. We are looking at a $7.5 billion education budgets instead of a $7 billion education budget that we have now.
Sen. Waggoner said that January has been spent meeting with constituents, county commissions, city councils ahead of the 2021 Legislative Session that begins on February 4. There was an important meeting in Birminghamport.
“There will probably be a thousand bills introduced,” Waggoner said. “The good news is that only about twenty percent of those will pass.”
State Representative Jim Carns, R-Vestavia Hills, said that there a couple of huge issues facing the Legislature. “One of them is the prison system.”
Carns said that the federal government is pressuring the state to improve prison conditions. If we do it within our own resources we determine how we do it; but if there is a federal consent decree; they determine how much we have to spend.
“Gambling is coming up,” Carns said. “There will be three or four different areas being brought before the legislature.”
The Poarch Creek Band of Indians is putting considerable pressure on legislators to accept a proposal giving them a gambling monopoly in the state of Alabama. PCI is running statewide ads promising to pay one billion for the gambling rights. There are also legislators promoting bills to allow electronic bingo at the dog tracks and other legislators are promoting competing lottery proposals.
“We are going to have an action packed budget,” Carns said. “The booming economy has increase tax receipts. We will have seven and a half billion. I can remember a few years ago where our education budget was four and a half billion.
In most states, the increased income tax receipts would mean that the money could be placed where the greatest need is. In Alabama’s case, the greatest need is the Alabama Department of Corrections; because the state faces both a Department of Justice order to improve the prisons and a federal lawsuit that is currently in Judge Myron Thompson’s court. In the State of Alabama however over ninety percent of revenues are earmarked. All state income taxes are earmarked for the ETF and can not be transferred to the State General Fund (SGF).
The Mid-Alabama Republican Club swore in its new officers.
Jefferson County Commissioners Steve Ammons (R) will be the new President of MARC, taking over for former State Representative Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood. DeMarco is the new Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party.
MARC meets for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month at the Vestavia Public Library.
The 2020 Legislative Session begins on February 4.