Some highlights from this week in Montgomery:
Budgets - The General Fund Budget started in the Senate this year and the Education Budget in the House. The Education Budget started to move in the House, passing the committee on Wednesday. The $6.6B bill passing committee returns funding to pre-recession levels and includes 2.5% pay increase for K-12 and 2 Year College Systems employees. This is the second 2.5% increase in three years. The Education Budget could be voted on by the full House as early as next week.
The Senate voted on two Special Order Calendars this week. Tuesday's SOC included a couple of controversial bills that where carried over for further review. (NOTE - for some reason this SOC is not available on the Legislative Website) One Bill, SB86, included a $2.4B (Billion...with a B) bond issue for road and bridge improvements across the state. Introduction of this bill on the SOC caught several of us off guard. We've seen this legislation before and I continue to discuss with parties back home in the district to ensure if (and that's a big if) we move forward with this legislation it follows a fair approach to all counties/municipalities across the state. I recall that in 2010 reports showed that only .53 cents on the dollar from gas tax returned to North Alabama counties for road work. We've worked hard to reverse this course and need to continue to do ensure fairness in road projects across the state. I maintain that Public Safety and Commerce should be paramount in that decision making process - not politics. Thursday's SOC was largely non-controversial as well with the Senate adjourning just before noon.
Friday was the final day to qualify for the 2018 elections in Alabama. The Primary election will be held in June and the General elections are in November. I encourage you to stay informed and know who is running for office as there will be significant change; 23 of the 105 members of the House, and 9 of the 35 members of the Senate are not seeking reelection. Constitutional Office races - Governor, Lt Gov, Attorney General, etc. are very crowded as well. You can review each parties qualifications by office at these links - State Democrat Party and State Republican Party.
The Senate convenes at 2PM on Tuesday. On Thursday the Senate and House will hold a Joint Session for Military Week and General Perna - Commanding General of the Army Material Command at Redstone Arsenal will address the State Legislature.
Have a great weekend!
Semper Fi - Bill