PHENIX CITY, Ala. — Dozens gathered in Phenix City Tuesday night. For a town hall meeting called by local legislators. They were updating residents on what’s going on in Montgomery. The General Fund budget for 2018 and 2019 was among the topics that got a lot of attention.
The town hall meeting was held at Crawford Park in Phenix City. According to Alabama State Representative Chris Blackshear. The 2018 and 2019 year is already in the hole by more than $100 million. Many appeared to be concerned by this, but legislators seem to believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
State Representative Chris Blackshear and other legislators hosted a town hall meeting at Crawford Tuesday night. One hot button issue was the General Fund budget for 2018 and 2019. Blackshear says Alabama is already $105 million in the hole.
“What we did at the end of last year..part of the BP Settlement from the oil spill several years back..we had an opportunity to get a huge chunk of money as a settlement in a one time payment. It kind of equated in to I guess if you win the lottery do you wanna take it out in 30 year increment payments or do you wanna take in one lump sum,” says Representatives Blackshear.
Legislators explain what was done with that large lump sum.
“What we did with that is…over 80 percent the debt that was borrowed back prior to 2010, 2011. We we’re able to retire that debt,” says Representative Blackshear.
As a result, Alabama’s rainy day fund was also replenished 100 percent. Medicaid is also benefitting from this action.
“We also took 105 million dollars and ear-marked that additional funds to medicaid. So medicaid will now get in the upcoming budget a total of 805 million dollars,” says Representative Blackshear.
Blackshear provides even more clarity on the effect of putting some of the $105 million towards Medicaid.
“That’s automatically gone so without any other unforseen headwinds that always seem to pop up. We already kmow we’re going in to the 2018-2019 budget cycle with 105 million dollar hole we’re gonna have to fill in,” says Representative Blackshear.
Blackshear explains how legislators are dealing with the shortfall.
“Biggest thing is what we did with the budget that we passed last week in the House that now goes to the Senate we carried over 97 million dollars from the proposed 2017-2018 budget that we just passed.. to help cover about 90 percent of those monies,” says Representative Blackshear.
Blackshear says he hopes that proposal that passed in the house will stay intact. He says if it doesn’t “We’re gonna have a tough time next year with our budget process.”