The Alabama Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would do away with the position of state auditor, transferring those duties to the state treasurer’s office. The House will also have to approve the bill, and it will take a vote by the public to approve the amendment to the state constitution.
“We’re not picking winners and losers here,” said Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre, who introduced Senate Bill 38 and explained that if passed, it would not take effect for eight years, giving the next state auditor time to hold the position for their term.
Jones said the move would save the state treasurer’s budget of approximately $1 million annually. The state auditor is charged with maintaining inventory of state property and making appointments to each county board of registrars.
Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, expressed concern over the bill, and asked why lawmakers should do away with a constitutional office, and questioned whether the state would actually see those savings, as the state treasurer’s office would have to conduct the work of the treasurer.
Singleton also questioned whether the bill was brought in reaction to some lawmakers’ displeasure with the current state auditor, Jim Zeigler.
“I know that a lot of people around here have been talking about the auditor’s office, and the current auditor. People are talking about all they do is bring lawsuits and things of that nature,” Singleton said.
The Senate voted 32-1 to approve the bill, with Singleton voting no. The bill now heads to the state House for consideration.
The Senate also passed the largest general fund budget in state history Wednesday, a bill that had been in a conference committee to work out differences in budget bills previously passed in both the Senate and House.
The Senate on Feb. 24 passed a $2.66 billion version of the bill, and the House on Feb. 15 passed a $2.7 billion version. Differences between the two were dealt with in a conference committee this week.
Senate Bill 106 includes a 4 percent pay raise for state employees, a one-time bonus for retired state employees and increases in mental health care spending in Alabama.
The House will also have to approve the bill before it can be sent to Ivey for her signature.