Today is the day Alabama voters decide to vote in favor of or against the Alabama Medicaid Amendment, Amendment One, which would allow the state legislature to transfer $437 million from the state’s Trust Fund to its General Fund. The transferred sum would go towards beefing up General Fund spending that has continued to decrease since the 2008 recession.
Although the Birmingham News reporter Joey Kennedy presents a well-informed and thoughtful perspective on why voters should choose yes, I’m going to have to disagree with his opinion. Voting yes to allow the Alabama State Legislature to transfer $437 million from the Trust Fund to the General Fund would be like duct taping a leaking pipe—it may hold for now, but eventually the leak is going to start again and maybe worsen until the issue is addressed properly.
Kennedy argues that by voting no, the government would have to further cut back on the General Fund Budget, which would in turn adversely effect certain agencies that aid the public such as child welfare, Medicaid, and prisons.
State Representative Craig Ford couldn’t have put it any better: “You would not loan one-fifth of your personal savings to someone without first making sure that all other avenues of funding/assistance or money was not available to the borrower before raiding your personal savings.”
Plus, the amendment doesn’t mandate the money “borrowed” from the Trust Fund be returned to the account. The General Fund covers all expenses related to Medicaid, prisons and courts. Money for the General Fund comes from interest payments received from the Trust Fund. The Trust Fund receives its funding from royalties collected from digging for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico. So if the amendment is passed, interest payments on the Trust Fund will be lower, which will therefore reduce the amount of money going into the General Fund later. As Scooby-Doo would say, “ruh-roh.”
In my humble opinion, Governor Robert Bentley should re-evaluate all of the options instead of taking the easy way out. Don’t try to duct tape the leaking pipe, Governor Bentley. Fix the problem with the longer-term in mind.