It’s no secret that Alabama struggles with budget solvency year after year, but a bill that would create more General Fund flexibility was met with strong blowback at a committee meeting in late January.
The legislation, proposed by Sen. Trip Pittman, would remove $79 million in earmarks and place that money in the General Fund instead. Lawmakers would then decide how to spend it, although it could still be allocated for the categories that it was originally earmarked for.
Approximately 86 percent of Alabama’s revenue, as of 2015, is allocated to specific agencies and funds, rather than the General Fund, AL.com reported. And in general, Alabama earmarks more tax dollars for specific programs than other states. This practice is consistently cited as a major contributing factor to Alabama’s ongoing budget struggles.
However, during a Jan. 24 public hearing on the bill, five opponents spoke out against the bill, arguing that removing the proposed earmarks would be harmful to critical state services, and no one spoke in support of it. Sen. Pittman did not call for a vote on the bill and said he didn’t know when he would ask for one, but also noted that the bill mainly serves to make a point about addressing the state’s budget problem.