MONTGOMERY, Ala. – On Tuesday afternoon, the Alabama Senate passed by a 26-2 vote a $2 billion General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) that increases funds for prisons and state troopers, and protects taxpayers by avoiding any new taxes. The General Fund is the state budget for all non-education state spending.
“This budget protects the taxpayers of Alabama, while ensuring that the core functions of state government are adequately funded,” State Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) and Chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation Budget Committee said. “We have prioritized targeted increases for state troopers, prisons, and the Department of Public Health, and level-funded nearly every other state department and agency.”
The FY19 budget allocates a $3.2 million increase to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to fund the hiring of 30 new troopers, a $8 million increase for the Department of Mental Health, and a $4.7 million increase for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
“This is a good General Fund budget: we were able to fully-fund state agencies, hire additional state troopers, provide much-needed money to address mental health in our prisons, and pay back debt to the Alabama Trust Fund,” Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) observed. “Although the past few budgets have been lean, through conservative fiscal practices and living within our means, we have been able to come out of those years and pass a robust budget – without raising new taxes on hard-working Alabamians.”
The FY19 General Fund increases the Department of Corrections’ budget by $51 million. A slate of liberal advocacy groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, has sued the department, alleging that many prison inmates are held in conditions that are cruel and unusual, since Alabama’s prisons are at approximately 160 percent capacity. Requested by Governor Kay Ivey, the $51 million increase will help Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn bring the state prisons into compliance with a federal court order.
“Alabama’s economy is growing, unemployment is a historic low, and the State Senate has passed a pro-growth budget that includes no new taxes on Alabama families or businesses,” Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) remarked. “I want to thank budget chairman Trip Pittman for the tremendous job he did in crafting a fiscally-responsible budget.”
The FY19 budget now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senator Trip Pittman represents District 32 in the Alabama State Senate, which is contained fully within Baldwin County, and he is the Chairman of the Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee. He is a small business owner and a former member of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.