On Wednesday, Davis will unveil the governor's recommendations for both budgets, but she said the suggestions for non-education agencies financed by the General Fund will be "relatively flat." She said Bentley has tried to stretch spending in tough economic times by closing three mental hospitals and cutting about 5,000 state employees.
Senate budget committee chairman Arthur Orr, R-Daphne, said it looks like education employees could get their first cost-of-living raise since fall 2007. He said a raise of 1 percent to 1.5 percent appear likely, but there doesn't appear to be enough money in the General Fund to give state employees a raise.
On the General Fund side, state court administrator Rich Hobson said level funding for the court system would be harmful. He said the system has cut 270 employees in the last two years. Forty were juvenile probation officers, and most of the rest worked in circuit clerks offices. He said funding for the court system is 27 percent less than it was in 2002.
Despite the good news Tuesday for the education budget, Green and Davis noted that Alabama still isn't back to the glory days of 2008. That year the education budget was $6.69 billion and the General Fund budget was $1.83 billion. Davis said Alabama's unemployment rate demonstrates why the state is still working to recover. The average unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in 2008 and 7.7 percent in 2012, she said.