Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Boom goes the budget

As in every other state, the impending retirement of the giant baby boom generation will hit Alabama's bottom line hard, especially in the realm of state retirees' health insurance costs. Alabama, which collects a little under $8 billion in revenues annually, will have to pay almost $20 billion to fund the current level of benefits for retirees and current employees.

Ordinarily, any issue involving numbers that big would provoke a fierce battle in Montgomery, but the fiery rhetoric is remarkably absent on Goat Hill, where the Legislature next year may start doing the reasonable thing and setting aside millions of dollars each year to invest in a dedicated trust fund to try to defray Alabama's portion of the costs. Gov. Bob Riley doesn't seem to be opposed to the idea, and education lobbyist Paul Hubbert, who actually runs the show in the capital, is all for it.

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