April 9, 2010
We all know that for most of us, we are experiencing tough economic times unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes, except for those who lived through the Great Depression. As a result of this economic downturn, state revenues have been undermined which has resulted in three years of crisis for our state budgets. However, due to a conservative approach to budgets, saving for a rainy day and setting priorities, we have succeeded in funding the programs that impact the daily lives of our families and have done so without raising one tax.
This past week, we passed the Education Trust Fund Budget. Though, we are experiencing tough economic times, we were able to fund every state-paid teaching position; therefore, we do not expect any teacher layoffs that are funded at the state level. We were also able to maintain funding levels or increase funding levels for the most important and effective education programs in the state, like the Alabama Reading Initiative, the math and science program, distant learning and the pre-kindergarten program.
The General Fund Budget will be dealt with in the upcoming legislative week. However, I can tell you that we were able to maintain funding for Medicaid, children’s health insurance, state troopers and Alabama prisons. This is how we have budgeted state government the last three years, three of the most challenging budgets in my career. During this time, we have expanded the children’s health insurance program, providing health insurance for another 14,000 kids. We have doubled the size of our award-winning pre-kindergarten program.
The good news is that we did this without raising taxes. In fact, we actually cut income taxes for Alabama families by $57 million in 2009. We did this by having the foresight, during good years, to save for a rainy day, hence the term "rainy day" fund. We also decided what was really important to us just as your do with your own budgets.
These lean times have taught us all about financial priorities. My fellow senate members and I have done the same with the state budgets making our children and our seniors our priorities.
We had good news in the senate district with the announcing of the opening of several bids from the Department of Transportation for projects in the area including work on a bridge and the approaches at Barn Creek on State Road 74 and the resurfacing of County Road 51 from County Road 42 to State Road 74 both in Marion County. In Winston County, they will be constructing an entrance road from County Road 69 also known as Newburg Road northerly .284 miles to the new Armed Forces Reserve Center, northeast of Haleyville. In Lamar County, they will be working of the construction of sidewalks and crosswalks as part of the "Safe Routes to School" program, for Vernon Elementary, Lamar County High School and Sulligent School. The last project is in Franklin County and involves work on the bridge and approaches on County Road 93 at Bear Creek.
It was a pleasure to attend the Indy 500 at the Barber Raceway in Birmingham and welcome them to Alabama. This was a wonderful event for the whole family and has the potential to bring millions of dollars to our state in tax revenue and a ton of good will.
As the session draws to a close with just a few days left, I want to thank all of you who have shared your concerns and views with me throughout the legislative session. I hope you will continue to do so even when we are not in session at the following:
Roger H. Bedford, Jr.
Alabama State House
Montgomery, AL 36130
Roger H. Bedford, Jr.
P.O. Box 370
Russellville, AL 35653