MONTGOMERY. Ala. (WIAT) — The 2019 legislative session is officially underway in Montgomery and the list of priorities continue to grow.

It is expected to be a busy year for the legislature with the gas tax dominating most of it but lawmaker say there are other issues they will be focused on.

House Ways and Means committee Chairman Steve Clouse says one of the issues the legislature will take up is prison funding. Prisons have been a major issue in the legislature for years, lawmakers note. 

State Senator Bobby Singleton says higher salaries for corrections staff needs to be a priority. 

“Corrections is not a sexy job it’s not something nobody wants to do, like go and stand up and watch inmates,” Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-AL) said. “We don’t pay them anything.”

Tackling the education budget will be another priority for lawmakers. 

“We’re going to pass the highest education budget ever in this state most likely,” Joe Lovvorn (R-AL). “So for the people of Alabama we’re making sure we spend their tax dollars where they make a difference.”

Democrats, like Barbara Drummond, concerned with saving rural hospitals are putting pressure on the governor to expand Medicaid.  

“We have countless real hospitals that are closing their doors and as a result of those closures you have hospitals and places like mobile who are having to absorb some of that need,” Barbara Drummond (D-AL).