State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) wants Alabama to pay its bills.More specifically, he has introduced legislation that will require the state to repay itself $59.9 million from its general fund …
State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) wants Alabama to pay its bills.
More specifically, he has introduced legislation that will require the state to repay itself $59.9 million from its general fund and place that money in the Alabama Trust Fund, a safety net created with revenue from offshore drilling rights to help fund the state's capital projects.
"We don't know what the future may hold for our economy, both at the state and the national level, so while we have this windfall of $1 billion in federal funding, it just seems to make good economic sense to go ahead and get that debt off of our books," Albritton said.
In 2012, voters approved a change to the state constitution that allowed lawmakers to transfer $145.8 million per year for three years from the Alabama Trust Fund to support Medicaid, prisons, courts and other non-education functions of the government. Without the money, those departments said deep cuts would have to be made that would likely impact health care and public safety.
"At that time, the state had significant financial difficulties and was under proration," Albritton said. "To help the state overcome those funding issues, the legislature went to the people of Alabama and asked for the authority to borrow about $400 million over a three-year timeframe through a constitutional amendment. The people voted to pass it, and we were able to use that funding to try to fill the gap and keep our state government operational and functioning."
The state had been repaying the debt by dumping $13 million per year back into the fund and then doubled that amount when the state's coffers became flusher in later years.
The bill would satisfy the debt nearly three years earlier than required by the People's Trust Act, which passed shortly after the amendment was approved and requires the state to replenish the funds completely by 2026.
"When you have a debt, you have an obligation to pay that debt," Albritton said. "The people of Alabama expected us to repay that debt to the Trust Fund as quickly as possible, and that is what we are doing here, plain and simple."
The Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee passed the legislation, Senate Bill 1, last week. A similar bill in the House, HB2 sponsored by Rep. Rex Reynolds (R- Huntsville), was passed this week.