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We must vote “YES” on September 18th

By Senator Roger Bedford, Senate Minority Leader

Next Tuesday, September 18th, the people of Alabama will go to the polls to vote on a constitutional amendment that will have a major impact on every state agency.  The constitutional amendment will directly affect the health and safety of Alabama families, as well as the future of economic development in this state.  If passed, this referendum will keep tens of thousands of hard-working Alabamians on the job.

What you may not realize is that this amendment must pass for our local hospitals and all the healthcare service providers around the state to continue to offer the services our community requires. What you may not realize is that this amendment must pass to avoid the collapse of Alabama’s Medicaid system.  What you may not realize is that this amendment must pass for our correctional facilities to continue operating and to avoid the release of prisoners into our communities.  What you may not realize is that this amendment must pass to ensure that our court system continues to function and our district attorneys have the resources to investigate and prosecute crimes.

If the amendment fails next Tuesday, Alabamians could face some of the deepest across-the-board cuts we have ever seen.  Make no mistake about it, if this amendment fails, our healthcare system will not be the same because the same services may not be available, the same doctors may not continue to work here, and our hospitals and clinics may be forced to completely change how we conduct business and deliver services.  Make no mistake about it, funding for dialysis, prescription medications for adults, critical transportation for children, and in-home care would all be greatly reduced or eliminated altogether.  Make no mistake about it, hospitals, doctors’ offices and health clinics may be forced to cut staff or close altogether and the elderly would be forced out of nursing homes onto the street.

Make no mistake about it, thousands of jobs will be lost across our state that will disproportionately hit middle-class families the hardest.  The only way we can avoid these disastrous results, is if the constitutional amendment passes.

I agree that the Republican supermajority should have put in the bill that the money borrowed must be paid back.  Unfortunately, they chose not to.  However, we cannot allow the right-wing Tea party to destroy the healthcare system in Alabama.  For critics of the amendment who say that a better solution exists, there is no other plan.  If the amendment fails, the Governor has said that there is not a Plan B, and we will have no other option but to slash and burn the state budget.  We must come together as one state to pass this amendment.

Therefore, on September 18th, the citizens of Alabama will be asked to make a very important decision—a decision that will affect the future our state as we know it.  For the sake of our communities and the health and well being of our people and Alabama’s most vulnerable citizens, please vote “YES” on September 18th.

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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.

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