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Keahey: Spill comes at worst time for tax base

Sheriff Grover Smith talks with state Sen. Marc Keahey Tuesday night at East Brewton City Hall.

“During this time of year is when we really start leaning on Baldwin County and Mobile County for revenue,” he said during a town hall meeting in East Brewton.

Keahey, D-Grove Hill, said he believes BP should have had a better plan in place in the event of such a disaster. The oil spill was caused when a platform that serves BP’s underwater oil well exploded, killing 11 workers and unleashing the spewing oil from the gulf.

The spill came just after the state Legislature wrapped up its regular session, during which lawmakers passed tight budgets for the general fund and education.

Keahey said those budgets are likely to be even tighter next year.

“What’s going to be different is that all of the (federal) stimulus money is going to be gone,” Keahey said. “That’s $500 million less than we had this year.”

But Keahey said that in spite of the oil spill and the economic challenges it could pose — as well as the fiscal challenges ahead for the 2011-2012 — he believes the state will find a way to continue cutting waste and fund essential services.

Keahey said the session was successful, noting that legislation was passed to shore up the state’s pre-paid college tuition plan and a bill was passed to fund road projects. Democrats have said that roads bill — which would use $100 million per year over the next 10 years from the oil and gas trust fund — will create about 30,000 jobs.

That roads plan will not go forward unless voters approve a constititional amendment in November, Keahey said.

The senator also said he hopes to pass a bill in the next session that would create tax credits for companies that hire unemployed workers in jobs related to the timber industry.