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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Legislature passes rolling reserve bill

State lawmakers passed a bill on Thursday that could keep funding for education at or below 2007 levels for another five years.
The House passed the measure on Tuesday and the Senate passed the legislation on Thursday 23-10 along partisan lines with Republicans voting for it.
Democrats in the House and Senate expressed concerns that the "rolling reserve" bill could hurt the progress Alabama has made in education.
"In the interest of showing the public we are fiscally conservative we are going to hurt the education of our children," said Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma.
The Senate passed the bill intended to keep the education budget from going into proration, which are across the board cuts that the governor must declare to balance budgets if the amount of revenue the state is taking in cannot keep up with spending levels passed by the Legislature.
Republicans believe the bill is necessary to keep lawmakers from spending every penny in good years and from going into proration in economic downturns.
Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican, mentioned the bill in his state of the state address and said he would sign it if lawmakers pass it.
The bill would use a 15-year average to set a spending cap for the education budget. Additional revenue above that level, in good economic years, would be placed in a rolling reserve fund or used to replace money the Legislature borrowed from a state rainy day fund to balance the budget in previous years.
Sanders tried to get the Republicans to delay implementation until better economic years. He said the Republicans are including down economic years when the state has cut funding for books, school supplies and professional development.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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