Some Alabama lawmakers are still reeling from the sticker shock after it was announced the budget for the new prison facility in Elmore County had been increased to nearly $1 billion. 

While the official reason given for the sudden and significant price hike is due to inflation, State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) said on last Friday’s episode of “The Dale Jackson Show” that “it certainly appears” as the state signed onto the major construction project without knowing how much it was actually going cost.

"We thought, at least the people I've talked to this week, that we had a fixed-price type contract, and, obviously, that doesn't seem to be the case," Orr said. "There must have been some kind of proviso in there, if costs went up, then the contractor could pass them on to the state."

Orr also questioned if inflation could really be blamed for increasing the project price cap from $623.6 million to $975 million.

"It is terribly disappointing, and of course, we can blame inflation, but when you have a 50% — that's a rough number — cost increase, you start wondering, 'Now wait a minute, is inflation really affecting prices that much in the last 18 months?' It seems like it's off the rails."

Despite his and other lawmakers' misgivings, he said, "I don't know if we have a choice" in paying for the prison despite the rising costs.

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