In speaking engagements around Alabama last week, Gov. Robert Bentley announced that he plans to ask the Legislature to make major changes in the state budget, and to issue $2 billion of bonds for transportation projects.
Bentley reportedly said that a source for repaying the bonds had not yet been identified, and he did not know when the proposal would be submitted to lawmakers.
The governor also said that he wants to unify the state budget, which is currently divided into the education trust fund and the general fund, each with its own designated funding source.
Bentley said combining the funds would potentially remove earmarks on some funding sources, and give the state more flexibility to deal with budget shortfalls, according to the Mobile Press-Register.
Combining the education and general funds would require a constitutional amendment subject to statewide voter approval.
Jefferson County, the state’s largest county, asked local legislators last year to remove some earmarks from its budget in order to deal with a deficit. The county failed to get fiscal relief, and filed for bankruptcy protection in November.
Counties in Alabama do not have home rule, and fiscal decisions such as the right to raise property taxes and other fees are made by the Legislature.
The state’s annual legislative session begins Feb. 7 and runs through mid-May.