ASHVILLE – While Gov. Robert Bentley was in St. Clair County on last Thursday welcoming a new industry to Ashville, he took the opportunity to discuss the state budget that was recently passed during a special session of the Alabama Legislature.
Legislators approved a budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 after making structural changes aimed at stabilizing the General Fund.
In discussing the budget, Bentley spoke about a Community Development Block Grant program that helped secure funds for road improvements at the Ashville Industrial Park where the new industry will open for business.
He said the state has to match these funds.
“We are having problems right now with our state budget,” Bentley said. “If we don’t have enough money on the state level, then we can’t match the grants like this one we’re giving out today.”
When asked if he was pleased with the budget that was just passed, Bentley said he was not.
“Someone said it was like being the father of an ugly baby,” Bentley said. “You know, you’re proud of your baby. You just wished they looked a little bit better.
“We had to have a budget, and I just appreciate some of our legislators who stood tall, stepped up and created some ways to have more revenue in the state because we have to have it. The state really needs that.
“Then when we have more revenue, we can do things like this with these grants.”
Bentley said it was a problem that will be coming in 2016 with the regular session.
“We’ll have to deal with the 2017 budget,” he said. “There will be some closings and some pain that will be affected by the budget that was passed. But here again, we will be able to function.”
When asked about growth tax for 2016-17, Bentley said growth taxes are any tax related to job creation.
“It’s income tax, sales tax, use tax and utility tax,” Bentley said. “That funds basically all of education. All of your growth dollars go into education. That’s our problem in the state.
“Although we had $80 million taken away from education, we have replaced it with half that amount in the session before.
“My goal is to never take money away from education. I really don’t want education hurt. I want education to get more money.
“In fact, that’s why I supported freeing up that stabilization fund so money could flow back into education. I’m not for taking money away from education.”
Contact Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.