Alabama state budget (2010-2011)
In Dec. 2010, the National Conference of State Legislatures said that the state faced a midyear shortfall of $65 million, which represented 3.9% of the FY2011 state budget.
The state had about $17 million left in a rainy day fund for the General Fund budget. In early December 2010, Joyce Bigbee, the director of the Legislative Fiscal Office, estimated that the governor would have to eliminate 2.3% from the education budget and 8.5% from the General Fund budget for non-education agencies.
During this budget cycle, Alabama's Medicaid program covered health care for nearly one million people in the state, with the total program including state and federal funds costing more than $5 billion, three-quarters of which was covered by federal funds.
With 2 weeks left in the fiscal year, the governor declared an additional 2% proration, bringing the total for the fiscal year to 9.5%. School leaders had criticized the state Legislature for passing overly optimistic school budgets and then, when revenue falls short, the state declares a proration, cutting money local school systems may already had spent or committed. The cuts announced in September 17, 2010 amounted to $113 million.
The governor blamed the cuts on Attorney General Troy King and the suit he filed against BP as a result of the oil spill because the claim was mostly for sales and income taxes, which support the state education budget. The claim was for $148 million, the equivalent of 3.3% of the education budget. School officials, however, said that they had expected budget cuts, regardless of efforts to collect damages related to the oil spill.
The federal funds were not enough to keep schools from seeking loans, with five school districts had already borrowed against lines of credit they had with local banks to fund basic school operations, and 25 additional districts were planning to follow suit in the coming few months, which represented 20% of the state's districts. Other districts had enough money in their reserve accounts to cover the loss, but using it would have left them with fewer funds for 2011.
- See also: Alabama government accounting principles
Created in 1947, The Department of Examiners of Public Accounts was responsible for auditing the books, accounts, and records of all state and county offices, officers, bureaus, boards, commissions, corporations, departments, and agencies and reporting on expenditures, contracts, or other audit findings found to be in violation of law.
The rules under which the Department operates were found in Title 41, Chapter 5 of the Code of Alabama. The majority of audit work performed by the Department consists of traditional financial and compliance audits, including Federal compliance. These audits focus on two areas: reliability and accuracy of financial statements; and compliance with laws, ordinances, regulations, and other requirements. In addition, the Department performs "operational audits" and sunset reviews that go beyond the traditional audits and address economy, efficiency and effectiveness of operations. Such audits had been developed because the performance of governmental entities was not generally measured by profit and cannot therefore be determined through analysis of financial transactions alone. Operational audits and sunset reviews were not normally comprehensive, but focus on particular aspects of operations. The Department’s audit reports were published on their Web site.
The Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) rates Alabama “Tardy” in filing the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) – The annual report of state and local governmental entities. IFTA rated 22 states timely, 22 states tardy, and 6 states as worst. IFTA did not consider Alabama’s CAFRs, and those of the other states, to be accurate representations of the state’s financial condition because the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) basis did not iclude significant liabilities for the pension plans and for other post employment benefits, such as health care. Alabama’s Comptroller's Office was responsible for filing the CAFRs, which were published on their Web site.
- See also: Evaluation of Alabama state website
On February 11, 2009, Governor Bob Riley signed an Executive Order to create a state spending database. The order mandated that the site, to be operated by the state Department of Finance, be up by March 1, 2009. The site was made available to citizens.
The Alabama had a transparency portal. The following table was helpful in evaluating the level of transparency provided by the state spending and transparency database:
|State Database||Searchability||Grants||Contracts||Line Item Expenditures||Dept/Agency Budgets||Public Employee Salary|
- The checkbook had a search function.
- Expenditures by category included a "Grants" section.
- Contracts section had active bids and awarded contracts.
- Expenditures by category included line items spending.
- Spending can be sorted by agency.
- Public employee salaries were posted.
- Alabama government sector lobbying
- Alabama public pensions
- Alabama state government salary
- Government budgets
- Alabama state budget
- State Budget Solutions, Alabama
- Model transparency legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council available at this link.
- Alabama Policy Institute
- Christian Coalition of Alabama
- Alabama Department of Finance, Executive Budget Office
- Alabama state government website
- Alabama Government spending
- Gov. Bob Riley,"The 2010 State of the State Address," January 12, 2010
- Gov. Bob Riley,"The 2009 State of the State Address," February 3,2009
- FY2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
- Legislative Fiscal Office, State General Fund Comparison Sheet
- USA Spending, State Guesstimated* Government Spending
- The Wall Street Journal “States Face Budget Shortfalls of $26.7 Billion“ Dec. 8, 2010
- The Montgomery Advertiser "Lawmakers gear up for challenges with 2012 budget" Oct. 3, 2010
- The Montgomery Advertiser "State officials predict more budget cuts" Dec. 8, 2010
- "Riley tells Legislature there's no financial crisis in Alabama," January 13, 2010
- Businessweek "Alabama educators fear more budget cuts" Aug. 25, 2010
- CNNMoney.com "Alabama schools turn to bank loans to operate" Aug. 31, 2010
- The Press-Register "School leaders say BP oil spill legal squabble not only cause for budget cuts" Sept. 18, 2010
- Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts
- Code Of Alabama
- audit reports
- California State Treasurer, “Comparison of Other States’ General Obligation Bond Ratings”
- Institute for Truth in Accounting, “The Truth About Balanced Budgets—A Fifty State Study,” Page 35
- Alabama’s Comptroller's Office
- "Ala. governor signs order on state spending," February 11, 2009
- "Alabama's checkbook online," WSF, March 4, 2009
- Alabama state spending database]
- Open Alabama
- Open Alabama Checkbook
- 2010 Expenditures by Category
- Expenditures by Agency