Proration, state budget cuts likely

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Two legislative leaders say big budget cuts are coming.

House Speaker Seth Hammett and Rep. John Knight, Chairman of Ways and Means, say the General Fund Budget will be cut 12 percent and the Education Budget will be cut seven percent. Hammett said he does not expect any federal stimulus funds to bailout the education budget this year.

"The number of students in each class will grow, so I don't think it's any question you are going to see our classes probably go up," Hammett said.

State lawmakers are planning to give money to the Department of Corrections and Medicaid but no one else. Every other state agency could be cut 12 percent.

"We have to make some fundamental decisions in the state in terms of revenue," Knight said. "What are our priorities and what level of services people want."

Thursday, the Jefferson Co. Board of Education received an update on revenue collections. Board members were told collections are down only by $100,000, which was better than expected.

However, if the county school system has to cut it's budget by seven percent, the board says that will result in the loss of $13 million.

"We want to do everything we can to save jobs but there is so much you can do to cut from an operational stand point," said Phil Hammonds, Jefferson County Schools Superintendent.

Hammonds said he expects to further reduce school trips for the rest of this budget year to save money.  However, the school system will continue to pay $18,000 a year to rent an office at the 2121 building in downtown Birmingham. This will allow the school system to comply with  state law which requires the county to have an office in the county seat.

"$18,000 is not half the number of a teacher's salary, but it goes a long way," Hammonds said. "Our obligation is to comply with the what the law requires."

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