Those federal budget cuts are finally trickling down and federal welfare states like Alabama will feel the pain in 2012. One agency bracing for cuts of up to 40-50% is the Alabama Department of Homeland Security (ADHS). The agency is already struggling to handle all the new tasks foisted on it by HB-56 – yet another gift of so-called “fiscal responsibility” from our GOP-led legislature.
These cuts and reduction in funds for functioning programs will be a blow to the ADHS. However, the ADHS will require more funds from the state’s general fund to fulfill its newly bestowed duties. According to the Alabama’s new immigration law, the state’s homeland security department is responsible for maintaining the E-Verify system. This will require a 25 percent increase in general funding for the department to run the citizenship authentication system.
Alabama is facing a projected 2012 general fund budget shortfall of $979 million, or 13.4%. Unwilling to even consider closing tax loopholes or tax reform, the GOP leadership continues to assert that Alabama state government can “cut costs” to balance the budget.
And they're right. The problem is that their short-term thinking totally ignores the long-term consequences of neglecting essential state services. It also does nothing to stop the Legislature from passing more stupid legislation that forces additional responsibility and costs onto local governments – with no state help to pay for it.
Old Prosecutor has already pointed out the consequences of failing to adequately fund our justice system. With this new report, we see how budget cuts will impact public safety:
This means no new equipment for police or fire prevention departments anytime soon. It also means the probably cut of several programs that are funded through by federal funds. One such program is the “Cities Readiness Initiative.” This program prepares cities for acts of bioterrorism or outbreaks of epidemics.
And what will ADHS be doing with available funds instead of helping protect the public from disease, fires, and crime? They'll be acting as the Human Resource Department for every business in the state and maintaining enrollment in the federal E-verify system:
Instead of directly enrolling in E-verify, these businesses will provide the information to Homeland Security. Accordingly, instead of doing public safety, the Alabama Department of Homeland Defense will become a HR department and enroll the 80,000 firms, or 91 percent of all Alabama businesses, potentially in the federal E-verify program for them.
In a day that we are closing courts for lack of funding and eliminating other essential services, the Republican Legislature just created a taxpayer-funded, incredibly time-consuming service.
Now we find out that this “service” will require a 25% budget increase: money that won't be spent to upgrade firefighter and police equipment & training programs. Instead, citizens of Alabama will be paying to provide a service to businesses because the Legislature just couldn't ever think of asking businesses to pay their own way.
Just like they couldn't be bothered to actually read the immigration legislation before they voted on it. And don't forget! Governor Bentley is actually considering raiding the Education Trust Fund to help pay for the ill-considered legislation he signed just a few months ago.
GOP leadership: Leading the charge in Alabama's race to the bottom…..
H/T to Keating's Desk for being on top of this story for months!