Gov. Robert Bentley has predicted that if the measure fails, the prison system would run out of money and “thousands of state inmates” would be released to wreck havoc.
Let’s be up front with this. The state Legislature and the governor (past and present) got Alabama into this mess by refusing to craft a tax code that would provide the needed revenue. Yes, the recession was a contributing factor, but the severity of the problem is the fault of the system Alabama’s leaders perpetuate.
The Legislature and governor now want Alabamians to draw deep into their well of compassion for the less fortunate and bail out these programs.
Around the state, this plan is drawing a lot of negative comments. Some come from a lack of understanding of what Medicaid does and how many people are affected. We are not talking about free-loaders, as some suggest, but people like those in nursing homes, people who literally cannot help themselves. Nor are we talking about prisoners who deserve the punishment they get — Alabama’s penal system is close to cruelty.
There are those who feel that defeating this plan will force the Legislature and governor to properly deal with the revenue problems through progressive tax reform. Besides, some argue, if the governor and legislators have no compassion for the less fortunate, why should we?
Well, we should have compassion because the state’s leaders apparently don’t. This is neither the time to stoop to their level, nor does it do much good to hope that putting Medicaid and prisons in jeopardy will force reforms. What it will force is the federal government to step in. If that happens, into court we will go.
Come September, Alabamians should vote for this plan because it is necessary.
Then, come the next general election, Alabamians should remember this and those who made it necessary.