If the Legislature doesn't act, Alabama state budgets won't just be cut to the bone; we'll be slicing into the marrow. For many state agencies, every dollar lost in state funding equals another $2-$3 lost in federal matching funds. Now Republicans have documented problems with basic math, but it's pretty easy to understand that if you spend $1 in state money and get $3 from the federal government, then that's a good deal.
Yesterday, the Governor's office released a memo that brings that fact into sharp focus. We already know about the state parks crisis (although there was some good news yesterday), but here are some other low points:
— As many as 25 Army National Guard armories would close…
— Courts would have to lay off more than 600 employees and probably close for two days a week.
— State law enforcement would lose 99 state troopers, 25 investigators and eight Capitol police officers.
— The Department of Human Resources would lose $190 million in federal funds, resulting in more than 15,000 children losing subsidized child care and more than 30,000 children losing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits.
The only benefit I see here is this tidbit:
— The Environmental Protection Agency would take over water-related functions of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, resulting in 148 layoffs and delays and over-regulation that would hurt business.
For sure, I trust the EPA to manage environment regulations far more than I trust ADEM.
The court cutbacks are quite troublesome. The supermajority has already cut criminal justice funding to the point that Alabama's forensic labs can't begin to quickly process evidence. There's a constitutional right to a “quick and speedy trial.” How long before this situation explodes into yet another federal lawsuit?
In 2012, Governor Bentley credited God for his election victory, but he's done little to help “the least of these” in this state. The corporations are doing great thanks to all the corporate welfare being handed out. But hungry children and the working poor without insurance? Hey, they ought to just get a job (or another one) or something.
Look at how Republicans spent money during their first term:
- Speaker Mike Hubbard increased the speaker's office budget by 82.6% (to $892,492) over the previous (Democratic) speaker. That number includes $135,000 paid to political consultants, six-figure salaries to formerly part-time staffers, & a lavish re-decoration of Hubbert's office.
- A $99,000 no-bid contract to build a WordPress Web site for a state agency.
- A $72,000 no-bid contract to “research” information that's readily available with a Google search or a quick visit to the Census Bureau Web site.
- A million dollars for a special election to raid the state's savings account because the Legislature passed a non-balanced budget. That little scheme is coming home to roost now: over half of this year's budget shortfall – $160 million – is the repayment schedule for that “loan.” The supermajority decided NOT to pay any of it back until after they got re-elected.
I give the Governor credit for recognizing the state's revenue problem now – now that he can no longer run for re-election. But if he'd been listening to any pastor besides Reverend Ike, he might have found the courage to confront these problems before they threatened the state with disastrous budget cuts.