Supporters feel the move is necessary for the state to maintain vital services and governmental operations and to keep from raising taxes.
Some of those opposed feel that the state by taking this action is only putting off the inevitable by not exercising other options to deal with the state’s funding crisis.
The Alabama State Employees Association and the Alabama Retail Association, according to report, join a growing number of organizations from across Alabama in this effort to protect state services and save thousands of jobs in Alabama. To date over 32 organizations, the Alabama legislative leadership and Governor Bentley have urged passage of the amendment.
The Alabama District Attorneys Association has endorsed passage of the Sept. 18h referendum, according to reports.
Locally, Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center is urging support of this amendment noting that the funding situation could have a significant impact on the health care industry.
“It must pass!” said Sue Guffey, president, NAMI (National Alliance for Mentally Ill) of Cherokee County. “Mental health funding has already been cut to the bone. If we lose more funding, many people with mental illness could find themselves homeless or possibly in jail because of not receiving the treatment they need.”
Guffey said they are working closely with the Alabama Department of Mental Health to expand local services after some of the state’s major mental health institutions have closed.
Regardless of how one feels about the proposal Keep Alabama Working as presented some facts to ponder if the Sept. 18 vote does not pass.
A 17 percent cut to Medicaid, according to KeepAlabamaWorking.com, will cost hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching funds and will end health services for thousands of children; end the Medicaid adult prescription program; and either cut or eliminate a host of other Medicaid services.
Without the money Medicaid helps fund Alabama’s hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes and other health providers, the entire system would collapse.
If the Adult Prescription program ends, 40 percent of the community pharmacies in the state will close.
On average, pediatricians in Alabama depend on Medicaid for 40 percent of their total practice. If Medicaid is cut, many of these pediatricians will leave the state. Many rural hospitals depend heavily on Medicaid to survive. Medicaid cuts mean these hospitals close.
Your choice of insurance will no longer matter is Medicaid is cut by 17 percent. The doctor or hospital you’re using today may no longer be there.
Every family, as stated by KeepAlabamaWorking.com, should have a savings account to help make ends meet when times are hard. Alabama is voting on whether to use its money in its savings account to make ends meet. That’s living within our means.
The savings account, according to KeepAlabamaWorking.com, being used to help get through this hard time has $2.4 billion in it today. According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, in three years, after the transfer of funds from the savings account to the General Fund has ended, this account will have $2.7 billion in it.
Alabama would pay its bills with its money for three years. At the end of the three years, the savings account is still $300 million richer-without raising taxes.
Since January 2010, almost a billion dollars to annual expenses have been cut from state budgets.
Today, taxpayers are spending $648 million less each year to run state government than they were just a few months ago.
The number of state employees has been reduced by 2,300, as have expenses for state-supported insurance and retirement programs for new employees.
Alabama leaders are keeping their pledge to tighten our belt and live within our means.
What happens if the Sept. 18 Amendment Fails?
· 10483 jobs will be lost statewide.
· The State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be cut by nearly a billion dollars.
· Many of our rural hospitals and nursing homes will be forced to close their doors, leaving tens of thousands of Alabamians without any access to quality healthcare.
· Many of our doctors will have no choice but to close or move out of state.
· Entire counties could be left without health service facilities. Every Alabamian’s access to healthcare will be limited and our overall quality of life will suffer.
· Alabama will lose jobs and new industry to other states because businesses will not locate or stay in an area with inadequate or non-existent services.
· We could lose 11 percent of all jobs in the private healthcare sector causing unemployment to soar.
· 133 workers in the Department of Human Resources would lose their jobs, forcing 8,800 children to lose their care while child abuse and neglect cases go uninvestigated.
· We will lose 1,185 corrections officers who work in our state prison system. Three state prison facilities could close and 9,500 state prison inmates would be released
· Criminal trials throughout the state would be delayed for months or even years because of reduced staffing in our courts and the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences lab.
· As many as one-third of the pharmacies in the state may close.
· Food safety will be threatened. Budget cuts in FY 2012 already required layoffs of two-thirds of the Department of Agriculture’s investigative staff. Lack of inspection ability also harms local farmers when perishable agricultural products miss their shipping deadlines.
· Rural fire departments will lose funding, placing property and people at great risk. Many residents in rural areas will see a drastic increase in their homeowners insurance.
· We will be forced to reduce the number of first responders, which means fewer law enforcement, firefighter and paramedical services in our communities.
· The states prisons, mental health program, Medicaid program and child protection programs will face federal lawsuits and possible federal takeover!