Keahey: Lawmakers will have to cut more

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, November 25, 2009

By By Kerry Whipple Bean

Coping with the effects of a depressed economy on the state’s finances will be a top priority for lawmakers next year, state Sen. Marc Keahey told Brewton and East Brewton residents and officials at a town hall meeting Tuesday.
Keahey, D-Grove Hill, who has not served in a regular session in the Senate since being elected earlier this year, has served as a state representative.
Lawmakers’ hands are tied in how to deal with lower revenues, Keahey said.
Keahey said he is proud to live in a state that is the lowest taxed in the nation.
But that doesn’t stop the problems Alabama is facing. Keahey expects proration in the general fund budget by the end of the fiscal year; the education budget was prorated as soon as the fiscal year began.
One thing that saved Alabama’s budgets this year was federal stimulus funding that lawmakers spread out over two years and split between the education budget and the general fund budget.
But lawmakers need to look ahead to deal with that loss of funding, Keahey said.
Many lawmakers will focus on funding education programs that work, such as the Alabama Reading Initiative and HIPPY programs, Keahey said.
Keahey did note some brighter news in the state’s economy. In October Alabama home sales rose 13 percent over the previous October, the first time in more than two years that there had been a year-to-year increase. Keahey credited a bill he sponsored that helped prospective homebuyers secure loans for new and existing homes.
Keahey also noted that the state Department of Corrections has struck oil — literally — and has been given permission to continue drilling for more oil on its property. That could bring as much as $3 million into the state’s coffers, Keahey said.

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