Dothan, AL- Alabama State representatives Paul Lee and Dexter Grimsley spoke to the community relations group Wednesday about immigration, the Pemco bill, and putting people to work. But they also encouraged people to head to the polls next month because the state of Alabama is in trouble.
“We’ve found ourselves in a dire situation. We’re going to have to make these tough decisions,” said Grimsley.
The general fund this year is $200 million short Medicaid funding.
Now a special election is set for September 18.
If voters say yes, the state could borrow money from the rainy day fund to cover that gap
Grimsley said, “Although this is not the most ideal answer to this problem, at this point the state doesn’t have a choice. We have to do what it takes to make sure people don’t go unserved in the state of Alabama.”
Let me break it down for you.
Alabama has two budgets, education and general fund.
The education budget has some extra money thanks to the rolling budget lawmakers passed in 2010.
Right now the rainy day fund, created by former Governor Fob James 1982, is being used to pay off a $400 million debt. Instead, lawmakers want to pay it off with the extra education money.
That would open up the rainy day fund to cover the Medicaid shortfall.
That's the plan if voters say o-k in September.
“We’re asking people to look at that very closely. That money turns in from one dollar that we put in the state we get almost three dollars back. so this 135 million dollars we are shifting over each year could easily turn into 500 million dollars,” said Lee.
This may seem bad for education, but AEA, or the Alabama Education Association, is supporting this.
“We have not been on the same page a lot of times, but in this case they know how big a problem we’re facing,” said Lee.
A big problem indeed. Doctors, nurses, and patients are concerned about the vote.
“Worst case scenario and it doesn’t pass, we find ourselves in a real shortfall short some 200 million dollars, and some cuts that are going to have to be made. Cuts that we just cannot afford namely to Medicaid, nursing homes, and hospitals,” said Grimsley.
Opposition argues this would fail to address wasteful spending.
If the referendum doesn’t pass, Governor Robert Bentley could call a special session. Where lawmakers would have the final say in where the cuts come from.