Gov. bob Riley said the state faces a fiscal crisis of historic proportions and dramatic cutbacks will be necessary without the elimination of waste and the addition of more government accountability.
In his first State of the State speech Tuesday to the Legislature, Riley said tax increases should only be a last resort.
Riley said the shortfall for the new budget year beginning Oct. 1 will be at least $500 million. Without changes in state government, he said education spending will have to be cut six percent and General Fund spending for non-education agencies 20 percent. The deficit would require the suspension of jury trials, elimination of high school athletics, and the laying off of 3,200 school employees. But Riley said he's determined not to let that happen.
Riley said he working on changing how state government operates, beginning by having 30 percent less staff in the governor's office than his predecessor.
The governor said it will take more, including unearmarking tax revenue and eliminating wasteful spending like pass-through pork. The governor said he will not entertain the idea of new taxes until state government changes the way it operates.