Alabama General Fund Budget Heads To Governor

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Miranda Fulmore, WBHM

The Alabama House of Representatives gave final approval Thursday to a nearly $2.4 billion General Fund budget for the next fiscal year. The spending plan passed the Senate earlier this week and goes to Gov. Kay Ivey for her review. 

The General Fund is less than Ivey requested at the beginning of the session, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, but still about $168 million more than the previous year. 

Republican State Rep. Andrew Sorrell of Muscle Shoals was the only House member to vote against the bill. He told the Montgomery Advertiser he could not support increasing spending as the economy slows

Most stage agencies received the same funding as the previous year, although a few were given more. Medicaid, Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health and Department of Corrections all received a boost. The Alabama prison system is under a federal court order to deal with overcrowded, understaffed and violent conditions. Lawmakers dropped a proposed 2% raise for state employees.

Almost all Democrats in the House have stayed home since the legislature resumed work on Monday. They say the statehouse doesn’t allow for social distancing practices needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

Democrats also say the legislature should wait until later this summer to pass the budgets in a special session when the pandemic’s toll on the state’s finances is clearer.

 

Secretary of State investigating Bessemer for potential voter fraud

While rumors of election fraud or irregularities have lingered in the city for years, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill confirmed to WBHM his office is looking into allegations of voter fraud in Bessemer this election cycle.

Local health officials plan to increase monkeypox vaccinations

Health officials will soon begin offering intradermal vaccinations, reaching more people with less vaccine.

Combating gun violence remains a top focus of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As violent crime in Birmingham and the surrounding area continues to increase, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Prim Escalona, uses a variety of tools and strategies to get firearms and bad guys off the street.

Some 3rd graders in local schools could be held back under new law 

This is the first school year that third graders who do not read at grade level by the end of the school year must be held back in that grade, rather than passed on to fourth grade. The Alabama Literacy Act was passed several years ago, but its implementation was delayed because of the pandemic.

How one Birmingham custodian preps for the first day of school

When the kids are away, the custodial and maintenance staff in schools work all summer long. One custodian told WBHM about what it takes to keep the kids happy and healthy as they trade sunshine for fluorescent lights.

Dollar store workers are organizing for a better workplace. Just don’t call it a union.

Fired up by a labor movement that’s seen big union victories recently, dollar store workers are organizing in their own way to improve work conditions.

More 2020 Legislative Session Coverage