Governor-elect Bentley could soon announce proration

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - By Kelvin Reynolds and Melanie Posey

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Governor-elect Robert Bentley says he could declare proration within weeks of taking office. Bentley made the statement during a wide-ranging discussion about challenges facing Alabama.

Bentley said, "I think we're going to have to look at it in the next 2 or 3 weeks. It's going to have to be early. If you're going to have to declare proration, it should be done quickly in the early part of the year as possible."

Bentley says those cuts would take place in 2012.

State Representative John Rogers mentioned from what he's hearing, the state's financial future is looking 'pathetic.'

After speaking with the legislative fiscal office, he too hears that there may be a 12.5% cut from the general fund budget and a 2.5% cut from the education trust fund budget. But Rogers says the real hardship will come with the 2012 budgets when federal stimulus funds and other  "one- time" monies are no longer.

"It means that somebody has to have enough nerve to go in there and raise some taxes," Rogers said.  "Somebody has to have enough guts and nerve to say, 'We have to raise taxes in this state. We got to it with property taxes.  We've got to start doing like other states and start taxing property.'"

Rogers believes the state may have to consider an issue that has received stiff opposition over the years, adding,  "Gambling might be the answer. I mean, you might hate gambling, but it's a free tax. That won't bail us out completely, but it won't hurt to have some more, extra dollars coming in from somewhere."

Overall, the future state budget looks bad according to Governor-elect Bentley. He said the state's general funds could be down as much as $400 to $500 million.

Bentley wants to brief school systems early on how much state funding they could lose from their budgets so they can plan accordingly.

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