- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The chairmen of Alabama’s general fund budget committees said additional cuts are likely when lawmakers convene in February.

After spending most of 2015 fighting over how to fill a shortfall in the state’s general fund budget, legislative leaders say they expect another difficult year in 2016 with little appetite for additional tax increases.

House Ways and Means General Fund Committee Chairman Steve Clouse said he thought level funding was the best-case scenario for most agencies in the upcoming session.

He said the situation won’t be as dire as the recent budget fight because lawmakers did approve some new revenue, including a cigarette tax. But he said lawmakers have likely done all they are willing to do on tax increases.

“I don’t anticipate we are going to raise any money,” Clouse said.

Senate budget chairman Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, said he expects legislators will manage their way through the budget situation.

And Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said it seems unlikely that lawmakers will be convinced that last year’s bare-bones budget was a bad thing.

“There was all this talk from the governor’s office that if we did that there would be screaming and crying on the streets. No one is seeing that,” Marsh said.

Lawmakers will begin budget hearings in January. The 2016 session begins Feb. 2.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley pushed lawmakers to raise taxes but got only a few of his ideas approved over three legislative sessions.

The governor said the state’s Medicaid program will likely need an increase of more than $100 million to continue the shift to managed care, a system that state policy makers expect to control costs once up and running. But he also said it will be difficult to raise taxes.


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