- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said Thursday that he will veto the general fund budget passed by lawmakers this week.

“The General Fund Budget is unacceptable because it lacks adequate funding for essential government services,” Bentley said in a statement.

The governor cited concerns over spending levels for Medicaid and state prisons and also how lawmakers are choosing to use oil spill settlement funds. The $1.8 billion spending plan is $85 million short of the amount Bentley has said is needed to adequately fund the state’s Medicaid program.

“The proposed appropriation falls short of what the Medicaid Agency will require to provide services for the over 1 million Alabamians, most of them children, covered by Medicaid,” Bentley said.

The governor also says the funding level would end the state’s effort, recently given the green light by federal officials, to shift to a managed care approach for Medicaid. The new system is supposed to debut Oct. 1.

Republican legislative leaders said Wednesday that could not boost Medicaid funding without cannibalizing other state programs.

“You’ve got to live within the means, and that’s what we’re doing,” Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said.

Lawmakers have left Montgomery for spring break. Bentley says he will officially veto the budget when they return April 5.

However, lawmakers can override Bentley’s veto, with relative ease, and enact the spending plan with a majority vote of both chambers. The governor has previously hinted that he might call a special session if lawmakers override his veto.

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