CNN - Week 3 - Budgets Filed

CNN - Week 3 - Budgets Filed

Week three of the 2023 legislative session saw a flurry of bill filing activity with the resumption of the regular session. The legislature used three legislative days as expected, meeting as a body on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. With bills allowed to be filed only on legislative days, this allows more bill filings in a week. Before getting to the summary, we would like to recognize and express our sincere appreciation to Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) and Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook), who sponsored a joint resolution honoring the Alabama REALTORS® 100th Anniversary. 

Nearly 200 bills were filed this week, bringing the total number of bill filings to 366. While this may seem like a lot, a typical session sees anywhere from 650 to 900 bills filed. Generally, the number of bills filed in the first session of a quadrennium (Legislature’s four-year cycle) is on the higher side. We expect to see many more bills filed over the next three to four weeks. Read on for highlights of several bills that moved last week. 


Governor’s Budgets

Governor Ivey released both of the budget bills for fiscal year 2024 – the education budget, which funds the state’s education system, and the General Fund budget, which primarily funds the rest of state government. Both budgets are record-setters for the second year in a row. The education budget totals $8.8 billion, which includes a 2% pay raise for teachers and funding of new programs meant to improve our lagging math scores. The General Fund budget is roughly $230 million more than last year, for a total of $2.97 billion. As usual, the increase primarily goes to the Alabama Medicaid Agency and the Alabama Department of Corrections, but the bill sets aside $50 million for the reserve fund. 

Due to higher revenues, both budgets also have supplemental bills for FY 2023, the current fiscal year. The education budget supplemental currently includes nearly $1 billion in tax rebates of $400 for individuals ($800 for joint filers), as well as more money for existing charter schools, summer math camps, and Alabama’s First-Class Pre-K program.  The General Fund supplemental amounts to roughly $190 million, allocated to a variety of programs including $40 million to pay state debt early. 


Occupational Tax Reduction Bill Advanced from Committee

Sen. Andrew Jones (R-Centre) filed a bill to reduce current municipal occupational taxes across the state to 1% and prohibit the introduction of new occupational taxes. SB 65 is different than last year’s version, allowing municipalities to continue collecting at current levels if they are using the taxes to pay off debt, until the debt is paid. The bill, as substituted, passed out of a Senate committee by a 5-4 vote, with quite a number of mayors speaking in opposition, including mayors from Opelika, Rainbow City, and Tuskegee, as well as a representative from the League of Municipalities. 


Mortgage and Deed Recording Fee Increase Filed

A bill to double the mortgage deed and recording fees was filed on Tuesday. SB 107, sponsored by Sen. Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) would increase the fee from $0.15 cents per $100 dollars to $0.30 per $100 for recording at the probate court mortgages, deeds of trust, and similar instruments given to secure debt on real or personal property, among other documents. The bill also changes the recipients of the fees, taking 30% from what currently goes to the state and setting aside 5% for probate judges and 25% to an Alabama Housing Trust Fund. The Alabama REALTORS® opposes the bill for increasing the fees and costs on new home and property buyers. 


Looking Ahead

The legislature is adjourned this week for Spring Break but will resume activities on April 4th with a three-day week. Stay tuned for an update next Tuesday on what to expect moving forward!