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Letter Urges Lawmakers to Fund Vital Services

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Hundreds of civic organizations, churches, and healthcare providers have have joined together, in signing an open letter to the Alabama Legislature, urging lawmakers to vote to provide the necessary funds to protect vital services across the State.

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“As you consider the General Fund budget in a second Special Session, we, the undersigned organizations, urge you to stand tall, and choose a path that will make Alabama stronger,” reads part of the letter posted on the website, Stand Tall Alabama.

During both, the 2015 regular Legislative Session, and First Special Session, the Alabama State Legislature failed to approve a State General Fund Budget (SGF) to support basic government services.

Division over how best to address the budget shortfall has created division between the Republican supermajority in the House, the Senate, and the Governor. This infighting has left State government on the verge of collapse.

Petitioners from across the State are hoping to remind their elected officials that, “A budget is more than a balance sheet. It’s a statement of our values.”

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Over the last four years, Gov. Robert Bentley, and the Legislature have cobbled together a patchwork of solutions to fill the ever widening hole in the SGB. At present, the State needs to appropriate approximately $300 million to fund its obligations. According to the letter, funding essential services that protect, “our children, seniors, and most vulnerable neighbors,” is an immediate need, which will enable the State to, “move forward on sensible and widely popular reforms.”

Over the last four years, Republican lawmakers have touted their reform agenda as a means to cut waste, and maximize government efficiency. However, even with all the cost saving measures, funding for essential services is found dangerously lacking.

The open letter reads, “Our tax dollars support the daily upkeep of our common good. Important services like Medicaid, mental health care and public safety make Alabama a better place for all of us to live and work. In recent years, these services have been cut to the bone. Further cuts will set our state’s health system and economy on a dangerous course.”

While some around the State cry, “Cut Baby Cut,” further cuts will result in the closing of hospitals in many rural areas. It will also mean mental health patients, and their families will have nowhere to turn, according to the petitioners. The signers also agree that, “Thousands of working mothers will lose safe child care. Highways will become more dangerous as state troopers lose their jobs. Court layoffs will slow the legal process. Every Alabama community will see its quality of life decline.”

As the 2015 second Special Session gets under way, there is a chasm dividing those who would fully fund services, and those who would bring on the pain of further cuts.

The hundreds who have signed and delivered this letter to the legislature, and the millions they represent, say, they want positive change that will benefit every citizen, and not just a politician in the next election cycle.

Written By

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.