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Alabama Senate schedules July budget hearings

Alabama Senate leadership has scheduled some rare summer budget hearings to examine COVID-19’s impact on state revenues and prepare for the next legislative session.

The hearings will begin July 9 and were requested by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston. Lawmakers have invited several state agencies, including the Alabama Department of Corrections, Finance, Personnel and Pardons and Paroles to provide updates to the Senate General Fund Committee.

“Typically, we begin this process closer to sessions however because of uncertainty about state income and possibility of special sessions, we felt like it was important to get started much earlier than usual in this process,” Senate General Fund committee chairman Greg Albritton, R-Range, said in a written statement. “The Legislature has done an excellent job managing our budgets over the past few years. So much so that Alabama was able to weather the storm of the COVID-19 shutdown this year with little impact to our vital state services. We understand that we will not have final revenue projections until after July 15th but we must continue to do our due diligence and ensure that we use taxpayer money sensibly.”

Various tax collections in the state have dropped since mid-March, but a clear picture of the total impact won’t be available until later this summer, officials have said. Gov. Kay Ivey has said she won’t call schedule a special session of the Legislature until 2019 income tax returns and payments are due next month.

Meanwhile, the state has received more than $3 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money.

“We want to make sure that all public money is being used wisely, now and in the future,” Marsh said in the statement. “We have many pressing issues facing the state such as a potential $2 billion-dollar prison reform proposal and a stunning lack of rural broadband investment which need to be addressed whenever the Legislature is back in session and it is our duty to make sure we are prepared and kept up to speed on these matters. Furthermore, the taxpayers deserve a clear and transparent view of how their money is being used.”

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