Montgomery – Today, the state Senate and House Minority Leaders, Sen. Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) and Rep. Craig Ford (D-Gadsden), urged Gov. Robert Bentley to postpone calling a special session of the legislature after rumors spread through Montgomery that the Governor may call a special session for the end of August. The purported goal of this session is to put pressure on groups that might oppose the constitutional amendment that will go before voters in a statewide vote on September 18th.
“Given the current fiscal crisis of our budgets, we cannot afford to call another special legislative session until we know whether state agencies like Medicaid and the Department of Corrections will be funded by the constitutional amendment,” said Sen. Bedford.
The proposed constitutional amendment was approved by the legislature to allow the state’s general fund budget to take money out of the state’s oil and gas fund, known as the Alabama Trust Fund. The amendment must now be passed by a majority of statewide voters before it can become law. Supporters of the amendment have argued that if it fails to pass, state programs like Medicaid and the Department of Corrections would loose critical funding and will no longer be compliant with federal law. These cuts could lead to the closure of hospitals, nursing homes, and private medical practices across the state and potentially require the release of thousands of prisoners.
“If the amendment fails to pass, Governor Bentley will either have to declare budget cuts across the board or call yet another session to address the shortfall in revenue,” said Rep. Ford. “A special session of the legislature would cost the taxpayers at least $53,000 and could cost up to a half a million. When we are already under proration and facing the worst budget cuts in our lifetime, the state can’t afford to waste even a penny on a legislative session called for purely political motives.”
Bedford and Ford said that the budget crisis could have been avoided if the Republican Supermajority had provided leadership during the regular legislative session.
“The Republicans have failed to lead,” said Bedford. “But the citizens of Alabama can continue to depend on Democrats to fight for the working families, seniors, and children of our state.”
Senator Roger Bedford is a Democrat from Russellville. He has served in the Alabama Senate since 1982. In 2010, Senator Bedford was elected Senate Minority Leader by the Senate Democratic Caucus.
Representative Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden. He has served in the Alabama House of Representatives since 2000. In 2010, Representative Ford was elected House Minority Leader by the House Democratic Caucus. He was re-elected Minority Leader in 2012.