HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — The Alabama Legislature will begin its 2022 session on Tuesday in Montgomery, but before our local lawmakers head up north, they were in Dothan discussing key issues they hope to resolve.
Passing the state budgets, allocating funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, and broadband expansion are some key issues representatives of southeast Alabama hope to accomplish during this upcoming session.
“We are going into this session with a healthy education budget and general fund budget, and it is going to be our responsibility to make sure we appropriate wisely,” Alabama State Senator Donnie Chesteen said.
Local lawmakers said a special session is vital to make sure funds from ARPA are used correctly. On top of these issues, a new gambling bill could also make its way back to the floor as well as more bills on prison reform.
“I feel like we will be into a special session, inside of our session, probably in a couple of weeks to deal with the federal funding we have on the table,” Rep. Paul Lee (R-Dothan) said.
Each of the lawmakers tells WDHN News, they are going into this session hopeful, they believe this year will be the best year Alabama has seen yet, and they’ll do anything to make sure the Wiregrass is not forgotten.
“The thing we want to look at most is making sure that we spend these funds wisely on one-time capital expenditures,” Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark for said. “Make sure while we have a little money that we set some aside for a rainy day because it will start raining again here in the future.”
The goal is to not only make sure that funding is being used appropriately but wisely and save a portion of those dollars for rainy days in the state.
The representatives all agreed, going into the 2022 legislature, the state of Alabama is in good financial shape.
“That was not the case in 2010, we actually did the right thing, made the right decision,” Lee said. “Walked into a pandemic financially better than we have ever been.”
Last year, the Alabama Legislature passed the largest general and education funds budget, which makes representatives optimistic about the upcoming session.
“Every year you learn something,” Sen. Chesteen said. “It is a continual growth process. In order to be an effective legislator.”