Faced with huge budget shortfalls, Gov. Bentley is following the standard GOP playbook: cut taxes! The Governor is so desperate to give even more tax breaks to those who already pay the lowest rates in the nation that he's wiling to toss everyone else overboard to meet that goal.
It makes sense in a perverse way. The GOP is dancing with the contributors who bankroll them. And it's much easier to take from children, the poor, the mentally ill, and prisoners than it is to ask Alabama citizens and businesses to pay to adequately fund essential public services.
Gov. Robert Bentley has asked the federal government to let him lower the number of children who can qualify for ALL Kids, the state's public health insurance plan for children, because of a budget crunch.
The popular children's health insurance program is normally a bright spot in terms of Alabama's ability to provide health insurance to its neediest residents, and the program has been hailed nationally for its success.
Although the federal government picks up 78 percent of the cost of ALL Kids, Bentley said he asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to allow the eligibility change because the state can't afford its 22 percent share.
Meanwhile, the state is putting even more federal money at risk with proposed cuts to the state Department of Human Resources:
…when Department of Human Resources Commissioner Nancy Buckner told a joint legislative budget hearing that a 25 percent cut would eliminate temporary financial assistance to the poor and child support collection efforts, House Ways and Means General Fund Committee Chairman Jim Barton, R-Mobile, said he was skeptical.
Barton said he believes Buckner’s budget has a “lot of fat” in it, and he would consider cutting more than 25 percent of the DHR’s budget, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
“I don’t have any money,” Buckner said.
Gov. Robert Bentley proposed a 2012-13 budget with a $4 million cut to DHR. Buckner said that in her worst-case scenario — if her budget had to be cut $22 million — it would result in the loss of $93.3 million in federal funds.
Before addressing these severe budget issues, the AL GOP leaders quite naturally focused on their real priorities: cutting taxes because raising any new revenue is off the table. Heck, they're even willing take the taxes Alabama workers pay and hand them directly to businesses!
It appears that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is working on his own version of an NCLB law: “No Corporation Left Behind.” Because that sounds a marginally better than what's really happening:
“Leave All Children Behind.”