- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - State agencies will announce Wednesday what state parks, drivers’ license offices and National Guard armories will shut down or reduce services because of budget cuts.

Gov. Robert Bentley’s office said state agencies will announce plans for dealing with funding reductions in the fiscal year that begins Thursday.

“The agencies have to work with the amount of money that the Legislature gave them. It’s not me that is closing anything. It’s the Legislature that is doing in,” Bentley told reporters Tuesday.

After three legislative sessions and months of GOP infighting over tax increases, lawmakers earlier this month approved a general fund budget that contains about $82 million in cuts. Legislators approved a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax to minimize reductions, but rejected Bentley’s call for larger tax increases.

He said state agencies now have “tough decisions” to make.

Bentley said state parks will have to make a business decision based on the “number of people that go to the parks, based on their usage, based on how much money they lose. It will be really, a business decision that our park directors will make.”

However, he said three of the more popular facilities - Gulf State Park, Guntersville State Park and Oak Mountain - are not on the chopping block.

The Republican governor for months was in a political battle to convince Republican legislators to approve tax increases. He is now in a legal disagreement with lawmakers over budget language restricting how agencies deal with cuts.

The Alabama Legislature included language in the budget to prohibit the closure of drivers’ license offices and to limit service reductions. However, the governor said he believes the restrictions exceed lawmakers’ authority and violated the separation of powers between branches of government.

The governor last week asked the Alabama Supreme Court to issue an opinion on if the language is constitutional. Justices have not yet issued an opinion.

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