Thursday, August 27, 2015

Darrio Melton: Budgets show our priorities: Where are Alabama’s?

  When families sit down each year to make our household budgets, it's a negotiating process. It's an exercise in give-and-take. It's a time to sit down and evaluate where we are and prioritize our plans for the upcoming year.

  Yet as we are still in the process of creating our state's operating budget, we have to wonder if we see the same level of prioritizing and planning that we would expect of our own families.

  For too many years, the state has borrowed money from here and there to compensate for shortfalls in the budget, and now it's time to repay that money. Governor Robert Bentley has promised to veto any budget that doesn't include new revenue, but the Republican House supermajority is sticking to its reckless cuts across the board.

  In their last desperate attempt to prove a point, the House Republicans passed a death sentence for thousands of Alabamians by cutting Medicaid to the point that the program would simply dissolve. They didn't do away with the Medicaid Agency - they just cut their resources to the point that Medicaid couldn't keep the lights on, much less provide needed services.

  The Republicans control the budgeting process, and they're using their power to play politics with critical government programs in order to get their way and safeguard their reelection.

  The people of Alabama should be looking to the Republican supermajorities to find responsible methods to resolve our budgeting issue, and that should include accepting revenue that is on the table through the expansion of Medicaid along with closing corporate tax loopholes so that everyone pays their fair share.

  Just like when your family sits down to make your budget, you can't just cut groceries out of the budget to find a little extra cash to pay the power bill.  Alabama can't just cut Medicaid out of the budget to find a little extra cash for prisons.

  The fact of the matter is that we're doing something far more important than budgeting for our own families: We're taking responsibility for the money that has been sent to Montgomery from all Alabama families' household budgets. It's our job to spend that money as wisely as the families who earned it.

  About the author: Representative Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves as Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

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