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We are not that far away from the next session of the Alabama Legislature, which will be in February 2024. The past four years lawmakers have had the luxury of budget surpluses that have allowed more money to be spent on services delivered to taxpayers both in public education and general state agencies.
But those days could be coming to an end soon with the pressures on the economy pointing in that direction. Inflation has wrecked the finances of families and created more pressure on state finances, as well. Thus, Alabama state representatives and senators will be forced to make the tough choices on what to cut and what to keep in the budgeting process.
There is no question that Alabama has issues with the state’s departments that handle corrections, mental health and youth services. These are the priorities that require tough decisions because these state agencies must be funded appropriately, even if that means cutting other services in the state. Public safety is the most important role of government, and Alabama leaders should ensure that responsibility is met.
The days of passing out money to all that asked and funding new programs will soon be over with, federal COVID-19 funding is coming to an end soon, and tax receipts will be slowing down. What we know for certain is that there are a lot of projects being discussed in Montgomery that legislators should be putting the brakes on knowing they have to be fiscally responsible to taxpayers.
Thank goodness the Alabama Constitution requires legislators pass a balanced budget; otherwise you might see some of the irresponsible deficits you see spent by the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C.
Alabama citizens need to watch what happens at the Statehouse carefully to ensure that state budgets for the next year reflect the real world, not the flush times the state has been seeing.
Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives and can be found on X (formerly Twitter) at @Paul_DeMarco.