Alabama Legislature approves general fund budget

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Legislature has approved a general fund budget and wrapped up a special session.

Lawmakers gave final approval to a spending plan that they said will avoid spending reductions to critical state agencies such as Medicaid, prisons and mental health.

Gov. Robert Bentley said he expects to sign the budget into law after reviewing it. He praised lawmakers for their hard work.

The budget approval came after lawmakers broke a seven-month stalemate over tax increases and how to handle a $200 million budget shortfall.

Lawmakers this week approved a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax and a transfer of $80 million in education funds to help cover the projected gap.

The agreement was reached with just two weeks to go before the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year.

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