State Senate Passes Balanced General Fund, Cuts to Medicaid

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The Alabama Senate has approved a lean General Fund budget that could mean cuts to Medicaid services in the state.

Senators approved the $1.8 billion spending bill Thursday on a 24-10 vote, sending it to the Alabama House for consideration. The General Fund passes the Senate in 10 days, which is the fastest process in recent memory.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) said in a statement, “this is an early version of the General Fund and it is expected to change as it continues to progress through the legislative process. Obviously we had to make cuts in some places but the people of Alabama sent us to Montgomery to make those tough decisions.”

The Senate-passed budget does not provide additional money for Medicaid. Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar says the agency needs an additional $100 million to maintain services and continue a transition to managed patient care.

Budget committee chairman Trip Pittman described the spending plan as a work-in-progress intended to spark conversation about a funding solution.

“This is a tough but workable budget for the people of Alabama,” said Pittman. “It level-funds many state agencies, while increasing funds for Public Health and our National Guard units. I look forward to the House’s input and ideas on the budget.”

Senators rejected a proposal by Gov. Robert Bentley to shift education dollars to the general fund.

Sen. Rodger Smitherman, a Democrat from Birmingham, said he feared the Medicaid reductions could become reality.

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