MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama House gave final approval Thursday night to a $1.4 billion General Fund budget that restores $184 million in Medicaid funding and takes it from Alabama's prison system.
The Senate voted 21-10 to approve the budget for most non-education state services. But the austere spending plan is different than the one that passed the House and a conference committee will likely work out the differences. The conference committee work will have to take place Wednesday, the final day of the 2012 regular session.
A Senate committee had approved a budget that depended on voters approving transfer of $184 million from an oil and gas revenue savings account and from education funds to Medicaid,. The Senate amended it so that the funding hole is in corrections, not Medicaid.
The Senate also amended the budget to restore Medicaid funding for a program that provides medicine for low income senior citizens and to a program to provide prosthetics to Medicaid patients.
The Senate Minority Leader Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, made the motion to restore the funding to Medicaid and take it from prisons.
Asked what would happen if voters did not approve transferring the education and oil and gas money to corrections, Bedford said there would be enough time to fill the funding gap in the regular session, which starts in February.
"We ought to protect our children," Bedford said as he encouraged senators to vote for his plan.