The Alabama Senate passed the fiscal year 2023 State General Fund budget (SGF) on Thursday.

The state has an archaic budgeting system where over 90% of the funds are earmarked and there are two separate budgets. The SGF is for non-education agencies and the Education Trust Fund budget (ETF). Preparing the two state budgets is the primary purpose of the annual regular legislative session. 

Senate Bill 108 (SB108) is sponsored by State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) who chairs the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund committee, which is tasked with preparing the SGF.

The 2023 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. The new budget appropriates $2,696,828,354 in FY2023. There are also conditional appropriations of $40 million to fund the Alabama Department of Corrections facility maintenance fund and $3,500,000 for the State Port Authority. If revenues are lower than expected the conditional appropriations will not occur.

The largest project that the state has tackled in years is the building of the two new mega prisons, which were funded in a later 2021 special session.

Albritton said that that project is advancing and that the state legislature has created a special fund for the maintenance of the prisons – something that previous administrations at the Alabama Department of Corrections frequently ignored.

“We have set up a fund for maintenance and repairs,” Albritton said. “That fund and this budget will have $32 million set aside in that and we have not even got them built yet. By the time these are built we will have the money for maintenance and also the refurbishment of others. We are making headway.

“We have a 4% COLA for our state employees," Albritton continued. "Also, we have already passed the ERS retiree bonus. Our retirees are getting a well-deserved bonus.

“We also have had problems with our Pardons and Paroles. We have purchased the Perry County Facility. That is a done deal. We have the money to refurbish it. That is happening now.

“We are fully funding, in fact, we are extending the funding for mental health in this budget. We are expanding the services for mental health throughout the state, more than we have ever done. We have a gap dealing with the 4% pay increase we gave state employees. The mental health workers are contract workers. That would have cost an additional $10 million, recurring $10 million, we don’t have that yet. We cannot run faster than we should. We are going to take care of it.”

Albritton said that the state is increasing the number of crisis centers it maintains for mental health.

“Medicaid is fully funded and it is moving and clicking along,” Albritton said. “Funding the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. I can go on and on.

“Forensic Sciences, in this budget we are building the third Forensics lab. Two, three years ago we only had one that was overworked. We have another one being built, and this budget adds another one.

To read the latest budget spreadsheet, click here. 

Education will be addressed in the Education Trust Fund budget (ETF). Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) told reporters on Thursday that he expects that the ETF will be in committee next week.

Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) said that the budget includes a new special line item so that each senator can make economic development grants.

Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) said, “We have been 10 years without proration. This budget continues that same theme of being smart with our money.”

SB106 passed the Senate 29 to 1.

Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) was the sole dissenting vote on the budget.

The SGF now goes to the Alabama House of Representatives for their consideration.

Thursday was day 15, the midpoint, of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.

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