The Alabama Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a final installment of roughly $59 million to the Alabama Trust Fund, returning funds borrowed from the state’s saving account in the previous decade.
The bill, which is part of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s call during this special session on ARPA funds, was originally filed by State Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund committee. The funds returning back to the Alabama Trust Fund are state dollars rather than federal funds.
The Alabama Trust Fund receives monthly royalty payments from oil and gas companies, with payments distributed to aid city and county governments, as well as purchase land for conservation, among other uses. Assets managed by the Alabama Trust Fund exceed over $3 billion, as of 2022.
“During those years, amid a national recession, we had a significant shortfall in funds. It was the legislature’s responsibility to fill the gap of the General Fund and keep Alabama operational,” Albritton said in a statement released following the bill’s passage. “To overcome these critical shortfalls, the Legislature went to the Alabama taxpayers to seek their approval through a constitutional amendment to authorize the use of monies from the Alabama Trust Fund.”
The supplemental appropriation equalling $59,997,772 is the last of the state’s payments back to the fund. Lawmakers in 2012, approved the use of $437 million from the Alabama Trust Fund to balance the state’s General Fund Budget, with the funds arriving between 2013 and 2015.
Since the money was received, the state has made incremental payments toward returning the full balance of the borrowed money under The People’s Trust Act which was passed in 2013.
“In the early years of my Senate tenure, Alabama was in a critical place. We borrowed nearly half of a billion dollars just to sustain government function,” Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed said in a statement following the bill’s passage. “It was then up to the legislature to execute hard-working and conservative fiscal measures to dig ourselves out of this hole. Now that we have the available funds in our budget surplus, it is our responsibility and duty to pay off our bills and I want to thank my legislative colleagues for their effort in accomplishing this task.”
The bill now moves to the state House for consideration.