Educators to Prepare for Worst from Oil

By: Denise Bradberry Email
By: Denise Bradberry Email

Local lawmakers say the disaster in the gulf may have a huge impact on Alabama’s general fund and education budgets.

Educators are being warned to prepare for the worst.

The oil spill in the gulf is already seeping into the state's funds although lawmakers aren’t sure yet just how much damage it will do.

“At this point in time we can’t really tell exactly the impact because we’ve never been through a situation like this. We do know that it’s going to be pretty serious. I know that the next budget that we develop is going to be critical that we make sure that we do the right things and make the right decisions,” says Alabama State Representative Terry Spicer.

He says money is already having to be moved around.

“It's already hit us. We have all of our agencies down there, Department of Public Health, ADEM, we have some National Guard folks in the area, so it's having an impact on the state government directly now because we've had money budgeted to do things and we've had to reallocate,” says Spicer.

But local lawmakers fear that after years of proration, the education budget will take yet another big hit.

“We all felt like we were headed in the right direction and then this travesty happened. I’m very concerned about where we land. I know that our revenues are going to be short,” says Spicer.

But how can oil in the gulf impact education?

The education trust fund gets money from income taxes and sales taxes and on the coast oil is scaring away tourists, taking jobs and sales with it.

“The restaurants are empty, the motels and hotels and condos are empty, gift shops, people aren't buying things, so we're losing revenue here in Coffee County because of the lack of tourism,” says Coffee County Schools Superintendent Linda Ingram.

Meanwhile lawmakers and educators are hoping BP will make up for the lost revenue.

“We're working in good faith now with BP and with the state, our state officials but certainly something of this magnitude would probably be we'll be dealing with for years to come be it litigation or hopefully we will continue to negotiate with them to make sure that we're taken care of,” says Spicer.

Viewers have been weighing in on the issue of oil-effected budgets on facebook.

"I don't see it having any impact in this area but then the oil effect on the Alabama coastline will be something to think about,” says Sharon from Enterprise.

Lou Anne from Dothan says "with less tourist coming to the state we will lose those dollars. Then we will have higher unemployment to pay and more families will need support. Money has to come from someplace. There are great ideas out there to help with unemployment and to bring more tourist dollars to the state, but it is all being blocked."

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