The new Alabama Legislature, elected last month, met in Tuscaloosa Tuesday to get an early look at the financial picture it will see in March when it meets for the initial budget-writing session.
Outgoing Gov. Don Siegelman and his state finance director, Henry Mabry, say this year's $1.2 billion general fund budget for noneducation agencies should end the year in the black.
Mabry said the forecast was helped by a recent settlement of the state's lawsuit accusing Amoco of underpaying Alabama on natural gas royalties. He said the settlement will provide the state with $25 million, with about $12 million going to the general fund budget and the remainder into a state trust fund for natural gas revenue.
But officials say taxes are not coming in fast enough to cover this fiscal year's education budget. Estimates show the shortfall could be up to $200 million.