Today, the Republican supermajority in the Senate cut off debate to pass Senate Bill 287 that transfers $22 million from the Children First Trust Fund and increases the appropriation to the Department of Corrections by $20 million for fiscal year 2014. The Children First Trust Fund serves and provides vital services for over 60,000 children in Alabama each year.
“Children should not have to suffer at the hands of inmates,” said Senate Minority Whip Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro). “The agencies and children served by the Children First Trust Fund are going to hurt because the Republican supermajority thinks that it is more important to fund prisons over Alabama’s children.”
Tobacco companies withheld a portion of Alabama’s Master Settlement Agreement dollars from the Children First Trust Fund for the last six years. Last year, the Attorney General finally announced that the Children First Trust Fund would receive approximately one-third of what was owed to them this spring. The $22 million transfer that Senate Bill 287 requires comes from the aforementioned settlement.
“It is disappointing that the Republican supermajority in the Senate decided once again to raid another trust fund to balance the budget,” remarked Senate Minority Leader Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile). “When are they are going to stop kicking the can down the road and realize that we need true tax reform in our state? Because of this action, 7500 children will be without health insurance through ALL Kids.”
As a result of this $22 million transfer, the Children First Trust Fund will be prevented from applying these dollars to fund innovative and best practice services to Alabama’s children through twelve state agencies.
“All the Republicans that voted ‘yes’ on this bill, voted for prisoners over our children,” said Senator Roger Bedford (D-Russellville). “It is a sad day for Alabama’s children because the Republicans would rather vote against our children’s vital services and futures instead of making the necessary, hard decisions to better manage the revenues in our General Fund.”