Despite being the final days of Alabama’s special session, it looks as though Alabama Legislature will be back sometime after Labor Day. The Alabama Senate plans on debating a General Fund Budget that is identical to the one the legislature passed but Gov. Robert Bentley vetoed back in June. This all began last week when the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee voted against a 25 cent per pack cigarette tax that would have raised a substantial portion of the new revenue needed to fund state government for the next fiscal year. Most thought a tax on cigarettes was the easiest to pass, but without it, any plan falls apart. The committee chairman returned after a two-hour recess and adopted a budget that cut the state’s Medicaid budget by $156 million. The full House later passed the same budget, sending it to the Senate.
The Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee said that a $146 million cut to Medicaid was unacceptable and substituted the House-passed budget with the identical budget the entire legislature passed during the regular session in June. The Senate convenes at noon today in order to begin debate in the General Fund. The House convenes at 5 p.m. in the hopes of receiving the budget as passed by the Senate, concurring or going to conference committee and then heading home. The special session has an additional day and the legislature can meet tomorrow, but both houses want to finish this by late this evening.
So what’s next? Gov. Bentley is expected to veto the budget as passed in the next couple of days and once again the state will not have an operating budget for a fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, 2015. It is difficult to predict when the next special session is likely to begin, but most think it will be called immediately after Labor Day.
As for credit unions, the likelihood of any credit union tax is next to zero. After seeing the difficulty of passing a tax on cigarettes, the League feels that passing any tax on credit unions would be more difficult. The Alabama Credit Union Administration is still looking to receive spending authority for $150,000-$200,000 out of its reserves for the remainder of the current fiscal year. The bill, SB 41, is in position to receive final passage in the House but it will depend on the mood of the House to see if it is brought up. They could potentially come in, concur with the Senate, and go home without addressing any other matters.
Watch eSignal and the League mobile app for additional updates as the Alabama Special Session finishes up shortly.