Well, this is what that assurance got us.
In the budget he recently delivered to the Legislature, the governor proposed shifting $185 million in Medicaid costs for children from the General Fund and let the Education Trust Fund pay that bill. Or, to put it another way, education will have $185 million less under his plan to spend on schools.
He hinted at this in his State of the State address: “We know that the health of our children is critical to their learning process.” But when the those pesky details came out, what he was really saying was that he wanted education to pick up the tab for something that never has been — and never should be — the responsibility of education to pay.
In addition in his budget, he proposed to transfer $45 million in tax revenue from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund, the justification for which is, well, lacking.
How does the loss of $230 million not hurt public schools? And how does a promise not to do this hurt a governor’s credibility?
It’s obvious that the General Fund is in serious trouble. Nevertheless, the state finance director’s suggestion that the governor was forced to chose between releasing 11,000 prisoners (a number inflated for shock value) and children not having child care is false and misleading.
The choice, even without shifting the money, is taxing ourselves to pay for what we need or not taxing ourselves and suffering the consequences. An increase in the state’s low tobacco tax would be a good place to start.
Bentley has vowed to provide companies looking to locate in Alabama with an educated, skilled workforce, yet what he proposes is a plan that will do the opposite. He talks grandly about living within our means and not mortgaging our children’s future, but he resolutely rejects efforts to expand those means. In the process, he is doing precisely what he claims he will not do — disadvantaging generations to come.
At least Alabamians know what the governor’s priorities are. In this instance, it seems the future of the state of Alabama is not on his list.