ATTRACTIONS, STATE AGENCIES FACE FUNDING CUTS

Tourist attractions and historic sites and agencies will lose some or all of their state funding next year if the budget presented Tuesday night to the Alabama Legislature becomes law. Because of a drastic drop in state revenues, the Alabama Motorsports Hall of Fame, Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, Brierfield Ironworks, Historic Blakely State Park, Historic Chattahoochee Commission, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, and St. Stephens Historical Park were not included in the budget. Tourism director Lee Sentell said the proposed budget will cut the Alabama Tourism Department from this year’s projection of $12 million to $6.9 million next year.  “Given the circumstances, we will all have to trim our expenses to fit the revenues,” he said. Gov. Robert Bentley was supportive of the tourism industry when he was a legislator and remains so today. “He even mentioned our industry twice during his inaugural address,” he said.

Tourism agencies were not singled out for drastic cuts any more than other, larger agencies, said Sentell. He noted that the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (general fund), Alabama Historical Commission, Alabama Department of Archives and History, the State Building Commission, the Governor’s Contingency Fund, the Governor’s Mansion and the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations were recommended for 45 percent cumulative cuts. Not even constitutional officers and the Legislature were spared from funding cuts. The budget recommends a 20 percent reduction from this year’s budget for the Governor’s Office, Finance Department, Lieutenant Governor, State Treasurer, Attorney General, Alabama Development Office and Secretary of State, among others.

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