By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
If there has been a theme for the Republicans in Montgomery this legislative session, it would be that the federal government is bad and we don’t need the federal government’s money.
While I am all for the state being in control of its own destiny, the truth is that we rely on the federal government in order to provide the services that our state needs.
Unfortunately, we may find out the hard way just how much our state depends on federal tax dollars if the U.S. Congress does not pass a budget that avoids sequestration, which would mean across-the-board cuts to every government department and agency.
Lets look at how these cuts will affect Alabama.
If sequestration goes into affect, Alabama will lose $11 million for primary and secondary education, and another $9 million for educating children with disabilities. It will also put 260 education jobs at risk.
If these cuts go into affect, up to 1,100 children could lose access to early education through the Alabama head-start program, and another 500 hundred families could lose childcare.
Nearly a thousand students will lose aid for their college education and almost 300 students could lose their work-study jobs.
Education isn’t the only area that could lose funding. Alabama could lose up to 230, 000 dollars for law enforcement and public safety grants, and almost $100 million in cuts to Army and Air Force bases located in Alabama, which could result in as many as 27,000 federal employees being put on furlough and a loss of $176.9 million in income.
Healthcare will also be drastically affected for as many as 2,110 children who will not be able to get vaccines. The state could lose over a million dollars in grants to treat substance abuse, and over a half million dollars for public health threat response. We could also lose $865,000 in funding to provide nutritional meals for seniors.
Alabama could also lose over a $100,000 for STOP Violence Against Women Program, which would mean up to 400 women will not be able to get the services they need.
And we haven’t even touched on the losses to Medicaid, which receives more than 2 dollars in federal funding for every one dollar that the state spends.
The governor and legislative leaders in Montgomery have told us that they are going to cut the budgets to the bare bones, and that was assuming we were going to get the federal funding that it now looks like we will lose.
Even with federal funding, Alabama’s schools, law enforcement, firefighters, court system, and Medicaid programs (to name only a few) have suffered. If sequestration goes into affect, our state may not be able to handle it. I hope that our leaders in Washington D.C. will be able to avoid sequestration. But in the meantime, maybe the leadership in Montgomery shouldn’t be so quick to badmouth the federal government when they rely so heavily on federal spending.
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.