Governor declares school proration

Published 11:23 pm Monday, February 28, 2011

Gov. Robert Bentley’s declaration of 3 percent proration in the education budget was not a surprise to local school officials.

“We were expecting 3 percent,” said Brewton City Schools Assistant Superintendent Baxter Baker.

With salaries and benefits and other expenses already set for the year, Baker said the cuts will have to come from local funding.

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Bentley also said he will likely declare 15 percent proration in the General Fund, although he will first work with the Legislature for supplemental appropriations to protect agencies that provide “necessary and critical services,” his office said.

The new legislative session begins today.

Bentley said the cuts are coming after analysis but the finance office and the state Department of Revenue, which found that estimated revenues are not enough to make the budget. In addition, federal stimulus money, which propped up both budgets in the past, is now depleted.

The current Education Trust Fund has a $165 million shortfall, while the General Fund has a $110 million shortfall.

“Both our Education Trust Fund and our state’s General Fund budgets are based on unreliable revenue projections,” Bentley said in a statement. “Now, five months into the 2011 Fiscal Year, it is clear that there is not enough revenue to sustain either budget. Proration is necessary to balance the budgets.”

Proration in the Education Trust Fund is effective immediately.

“The taxpayers expect us to live within our means just as families and businesses are forced to do,” Finance Director David Perry said. “No one is pleased that we have a revenue shortfall which requires proration in the budgets that were passed last year, but mid-year cuts are necessary for Alabama to meet its constitutional obligation for a balanced budget.”