The Cream Rises to the Top

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A good person or idea cannot go unnoticed for long, just as cream poured into coffee or tea eventually rises to the top, those born to be leaders will eventually rise to the top. There are a number of Members of the Alabama Legislature that have demonstrated that leadership and find themselves at the top of their game. Such is the case with the four gentlemen that are the Chairs of their respective budget committees: Senator Trip Pittman, Senator Arthur Orr, Representative Steve Clouse and Representative Bill Poole.

Chairing a budget committee in the Alabama Legislature is never an easy task. Scarce fiscal resources, ever growing demands for services or money, multiple different constituencies pulling in different directions make the task a full time job. The two Chairs of the General Fund Committees have a particularly difficult task considering that the funds earmarked for the General Fund are not “growth” funds. Not only does the Chairman have to manage those scarce funds he also has to manage the multiple personalities of his respective Committee.

Pittman and Orr both have been Senate Budget Chairs since the Republicans took control of the Alabama Legislature in the 2011 Regular Session. Clouse and Poole rose to their positions with the resignations of Jim Barton and Jay Love during the 2011 Quadrenium. To be thrust into that position in the middle of a Legislative Session is a particularly daunting task but both have handled the job with distinction.

Last week the House passed one of the largest Education Budgets in the history of the state. That budget includes a pay raise for school employees and an additional $20 million for Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program. (A copy of the House passed Education Budget spreadsheet is attached) Last Wednesday the Senate General Fund Committee reported out of Committee the General Fund Budget and that budget is expected to be voted on by the full Senate this week. (A copy of the Committee passed General Fund Budget is also attached)

It is highly unusual for the budgets to be moving as swiftly as they are this year. Legislative Leadership has expressed a desire for the Legislature to adjourn early this year and if the budget process is any indication that early adjournment is growing more and more likely.

There are certainly other Members of the Legislature that have exhibited similar leadership traits but these four gentlemen deserve special recognition for their leadership. To date, the Alabama Legislature has used 12 of their allotted 30 Legislative Days. Legislative Spring Break is tentatively slated to begin on Friday, March 23 and run through Monday, April 2. Leadership has expressed a desire to adjourn Sine Die no later than Thursday, March 22. At the pace the Legislature is currently moving that target date is a very real possibility.

The Legislature is expected to meet for two Legislative Days this week. Early adjournments are regularly discussed but this year it seems those discussions are far more likely than normal.

Time will tell.

The Alabama House will reconvene at 1:00pm on Tuesday, February 17, 2018

The Alabama Senate will reconvene at 2:00pm Tuesday, February 17, 2018


The views and opinions contained in this report do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the clients of Public Strategies, LLC.