Lawmakers arriving in Montgomery for the start of the 2012 legislative session got bad news.
The Legislative Fiscal Office forecast Tuesday that the money for next year's state General Fund budget will be more than one-fourth smaller than this year's appropriations.
The fiscal office said this year's appropriations total $1.87 billion, but next year's revenue should only be $1.34 billion. That's a drop of nearly $538 million.
The forecast for the education budget was not as gloomy. It should drop from $5.63 billion this year to $5.48 billion next year. That's a decline of nearly $152 million.
One of the Alabama Legislature's top priorities for the next 15 weeks will be writing state budgets for next year.