Massive cuts loom amidst state budget crisis

Massive cuts loom amidst state budget crisis

(WAFF) - MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WAFF/AP) - Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says Alabama will face severe cuts in state services if legislators refuse to raise taxes.

The governor described the potential budget cuts during a speech on Wednesday. Bentley says Alabama could see the closure of state parks, reductions in mental health services, longer courthouse lines, a possible release of state inmates and other consequences.

Mental Health Center of Madison County Executive Director Brian Davis said the cuts would result in a $1.4 million reduction to Madison County mental health services. Davis said cuts of that magnitude - about 10 percent of his budget - would require the center to cut 35-40 jobs, discharge some patients and significantly scale back services, including counseling and prescription assistance.

Davis says statewide, over $35 million could be cut from the mental health budget. Because the federal government matches state mental health contributions two-to-one, the overall impact to the mental health budget could be a $105 million reduction in funding.

James Reddoch, the commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health is addressing the legislature on Wednesday afternoon on the potential impact of the cuts. 

Bentley says politicians need to look at "what is best for this state."

He said it is easy for politicians to dig their heels in and say no.

So far, lawmakers have shown little enthusiasm for Bentley's proposed $541 million tax package.

The governor said he is willing to bring lawmakers back into session multiple times until they approve a reasonable General Fund budget.

Copyright 2015 WAFF. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.