MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House and Senate passed the General Fund and supplemental budgets through a conference committee shortly after midnight on Friday.
The General Fund supplemental budget appropriated $207.6 million. The total General Fund budget is $3.1 billion.
State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), Senate General Fund Budget chairman, said on the Senate floor, "The goal of constraining growth and restricting spending in these two bills has been met in my opinion."
"I think this is not the best that there ever has been but it's the best that we can get to this evening and I think we've done a very good job in moving forward Alabama and moving forward all of Alabama in a way that we have been able to spread the resources that we have throughout the state in a much more fair way than has previously been," Albritton said on the floor.
An amended General Fund budget and supplemental budget passed the Senate on Thursday afternoon, but the two bills had to go to a House-Senate conference committee made up of three members from each chamber that didn't begin until 9 p.m.
The conference committee eventually approved the budgets after some discussion over how much the budgets spent.
State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) said in committee, "This quadrennium before we get out we are going to be scrapping and clawing and trying to figure out how we're going to be balancing budgets."
"It's going to happen," Chambliss said. "We had an opportunity, based on what I'm seeing now it's obvious that I'm in the minority of the folks who have this opinion…but from 2022 to 2023 we went up about $50 million in the General Fund. That was good. We'd had some tough years in the General Fund. In 2023 to now we're going up ten times that and it's still not enough. We're going above it. We're bumping those numbers. What's happening is we're transitioning from a state General Fund budget appropriation to a local General Fund. We're over $60 million in local projects and we're not doing all that we need to do, we're responsible to do in the state General Fund like crime victims compensation. We're not where we're supposed to be, we have a $3.6 million backlog. I don't see that corrected. That's by law. We have to do that, but we're not. We're prioritizing local projects over our commitments. My choice is if I can't beat them do I join them? Obviously, start looking at central Alabama and this $24 million that's here in Montgomery isn't really local projects. Most of it is state projects that happen to be in Montgomery so it's I think a little apples and oranges."
Chambliss's motion to double an appropriation to the Montgomery County Commission to $10 million failed to pass the committee.
The budgets include $5 million to the Montgomery County Commission for the Montgomery Whitewater Park project and $5 million to pay off the World Games 2022 deficit. The Mobile Port Authority received $5 million to relocate commercial airline operations to the Mobile Downtown Airport. The Port of Alabama received $20 million for "economic development and coal loading/unloading equipment.
The General Fund budget passed the Senate 28-3 early Friday. Chambliss, State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine), and State Sen. April Weaver (R-Brierfield) voted against the measure.
The supplemental bill also passed 28-3. Weaver, Elliott and State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) voted against the bill.
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.