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Alabama Senate Approves Shifting $100 Million Away From Schools

Defeating Democrats' attempt to filibuster a large budget shift, Republicans in Alabama's state Senate approved transferring $100 million from the education budget to the general fund to help cover a large deficit.

A critic of the move said his colleagues decided to "rob children" instead of finding the money elsewhere.

That statement came from Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, whose attempt to filibuster the move was cut off by the Republican supermajority.

AL.com quotes Singleton as saying:

" 'We are a bunch of cowards who are afraid to say to the governor take the pen and expand Medicaid,' said Singleton. 'This (transfer of education money) is a cop out, a cop out by the Republicans who will not expand Medicaid and who will not raise taxes on the big businesses in this who do not pay their fair share. Instead they are willing to put this on the back of school children.' "

The budget move isn't yet final, as it authorizes moving twice as much money away from education as the House of Representatives approved last week, AL.com reports.

Alabama is seeking ways to cover a $200 million shortfall for the pending fiscal year. Discussing the negotiations that went on into the night Monday, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, a Republican, called the talks "very positive" but also "very fragile," according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

The controversy over how to solve Alabama's budget problems for the coming year touches on many issues — including the redistribution of funds from the state's use tax (on items bought out of state) that had been marked for education spending.

Alabama's budget crunch could also pose problems for its judicial system, reports the Montgomery Advertiser. Providing one example, the newspaper says:

"If the General Fund passes as it was approved by the Senate in August, it won't just mean the Montgomery County Circuit Clerk's Office will go from having 22 state funded employees to two."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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