Governor Calls Special Session for Alabama Lottery

Date: July 29, 2016

Governor Robert Bentley has called a special session for Aug. 15 on a proposed state lottery. If approved by lawmakers, the question of whether to have a lottery would go before voters in November if the bill passes by Aug. 24.

Bentley said a lottery would help solve the state’s persistent financial problems. Bentley said the state doesn’t have the money for basic services.

“This solution will provide funding that we can count on for year after year without ever having to raise your taxes or put one more band-aid on our state’s money problems,” the governor said in a video posted on his website.

Bentley didn’t announce a date for the special session or say whether the proposed lottery would be the only issue on the agenda.

The governor has been mulling the possibility of calling legislators back to Montgomery to take care of unfinished business in a special legislative session.

When the 2016 regular legislative session adjourned in May, three major issues were left unresolved: the $800 million bond issue for prison construction, distribution of the BP oil spill settlement money, and Medicaid funding. However, if a special session is called in late summer or early fall, the focus will be the Medicaid budget.

Gov. Bentley says Medicaid needs at least $85 million more—$700 million is currently budgeted—to have adequate funds to operate in the next fiscal year. Possibilities for closing the gap are a lottery, tax increases, and using some of the oil spill settlement money.

One thing that won’t be on a special session agenda is the prison construction issue, Gov. Bentley recently told the Montgomery Advertiser. He will, however, be bringing up the original proposal, rather than the compromise measure that failed at the end of session, in the next regular session beginning in February 2017. Under the original proposal, $800 million would be borrowed to build four new prisons, while many existing ones would be closed.

Related Content: Small Business News | Alabama | Taxes

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