By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday State Representative Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden said, “You can’t cut a billion dollars from the budget without it hurting Alabama’s working families. Our schools, law enforcement, and firefighters can’t afford any more cuts in their budgets. How are we going to keep and recruit quality teachers, firefighters, or law enforcement officers if we keep cutting their pay and benefits? The Republicans have cut so much from Medicaid that the program may collapse. This would have a devastating affect on hospitals and nursing homes and cut access to healthcare for everyone,” said Rep. Ford responding to Gov. Bentley’s Announcement that Republicans plan to cut $1 Billion from the state budget.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) said on Thursday, “The bottom line is this: We made a promise to the voters to right-size Alabama government, and we’re living up to that promise. During challenging financial times, taxpayers re-evaluate their own spending and make adjustments. State government must do the same. That’s the idea behind enacting these savings. Through the efforts of my office and the support of our legislative leadership, I’m proud to announce we can achieve a billion dollars in annual savings for the taxpayers of Alabama.”
According to notes prepared by the Alabama Department of Finance, Governor Bentley and the Republican legislature have already taken actions which already have or will generate $675 million in current and projected savings. This number includes savings from: the 2011 Pension Reform Measures which save taxpayers $181.5 million a year; the 2012 Pension Reform Measures which will save the people of Alabama $164.1 million a year; right-sizing the state workforce which saved the state $181.3 million annually; SEIB/PEEHIP reform which generated $61.3 million a year in savings; repealing the costly DROP program which saved $58.5 million a year; cutting the money spent defending indigent felons saved $19.4 million a year; and various bond refinancings which will save almost $93 million over the life of the bonds. The Republicans estimate that they have already saved the state $674.4 million and have announced that they plan to carve another $325.6 million out of future state budgets.
Alabama Speaker of the House (R) from Auburn said, “It is our constant duty to ensure state government is operating as efficiently as possible and that taxpayers are getting their money’s worth. We must examine every dime of state spending, set priorities and, like every Alabama business and family, make the government live within its means. I wish our mindset was shared by Washington. We’re tightening our belts while President Obama and tax-and-spend liberals have piled on trillions in debt. Alabamians can be proud of the conservative state leaders they’ve elected and the fiscally responsible course we are charting for this state.”
Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said, “One billion dollars is a very aggressive goal. But Governor Bentley further revealed that due to their efforts to trim budgets and cut spending over the past year and a half, they have already implemented cost cutting measures that saved $674 million. That means they are already over 60% of their way to the goal! That is impressive and Governor Bentley and our Republican legislators are to be commended for their commitment to efficiency and right-sizing government.”
Rep. Ford remains unconvinced, “If you are born with money, then maybe you won’t feel the pain of these cuts. But most people have to work for a living, and cutting funding for our schools, fire protection, law enforcement, and Medicaid will only put our safety, health and economic future in peril. We have cut the state budgets to the bone. Any more cuts would be dangerous and irresponsible.”
Representative Ford is the Democratic Party Minority Leader of the Alabama State House of Representatives.