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THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2007

Alabama House OKs $1.8 billion operating budget

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House on Wednesday approved a $1.8 billion state operating budget that gives state employees a 3.5 percent pay raise and provides funds to hire 100 additional state troopers.

The House voted 88-14 to approve the budget, which now goes to the Senate for debate.

The sponsor, Rep. John Knight, D-Birmingham, described the spending plan as a tight budget that provides few funds for new services, but also will not require the layoff of any state employee. The budget provides funds to cut down the list of people waiting to receive services for retarded citizens.

The pay raise would apply to most non-education employees. The House earlier approved a 7 percent raise for teachers and education employees.

The budget cuts the appropriation for the governor's office by $750,000, including $500,000 for a fund the governor can spend at his discretion.

Riley said he thought the cuts to his office came because earlier this year he opposed a resolution in which lawmakers gave themselves a 62 percent pay raise.

"It's evident they are less than happy with me," Riley said.

Rather than getting a pay raise, retired state workers would get a one-time bonus around Dec. 14 that would be about $360 for a worker who retired after 30 years service.

Knight fought off numerous attempts Wednesday to amend the budget.

Some House members said they were concerned the budget does not do enough to reduce the list of children waiting for foster care.

"Why can't we find more money to fund foster children?" said Rep. DuWayne Bridges, R-Valley.

Several lawmakers complained that the budget provides too much money for operation of the Senate, which has been stalled this session in a dispute over rules.

Knight said the budget provides equal funding for the House and the Senate.

"I think the last thing we want to do is dictate to them how they spend their money," Knight said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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