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Senate sends largest General Fund budget in state history to conference committee

At approximately $2.7 billion, it is the largest General Fund budget ever passed by the House.

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The Alabama Senate voted not to concur with the Alabama House’s passage of the General Fund budget Tuesday, sending the largest General Fund budget in state history into a conference committee days before the state legislature’s spring break.

The current General Fund budget, as amended by the House, would submit approximately $2.7 billion for state funding, making it the largest ever passed by the House. Key items include a four percent pay increase for state employees and further increases to mental health care in Alabama.

Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed asked for the Senate to vote against concurring with the House once the Senate had received an official House message notifying the body of the General Fund budget’s amended passage. The Senate voted unanimously to send each budget bill originating from the Senate to conference, except for a one-time funds infusion to the Teachers’ Retirement System to allow for the implementation of a longevity bonus for those receiving benefits. Reed allowed Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, to decide on concurrence — Singelton sponsored the legislation — with Singleton allowing concurrence using the previous unanimous voting role.

A well-placed source within the House told APR that they were unaware of the reason for the Senate’s quick rebuttal of the General Fund budget. Senate leadership did not discuss on the floor their reason for non-concurrence and have not responded to requests for clarifications on the decision.

The inter-chamber conference committee is expected to meet today to discuss revisions to the current General Fund budget, with this week being the last week of the session before the spring break.

Both the Alabama Senate and House will next convene Thursday morning.

Under the Alabama State Constitution, the state legislature is only required to pass a state General Fund and Education budget each legislative session.

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John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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