You’re a single mother with a toddler, a job and a paltry salary. Your quality options for necessities — housing and health care, for instance — are limited. You’re stuck in what seems an endless circle of hardship.
Your child needs to see a doctor and needs her latest immunizations, which usually are available at the county health department in your rural part of the state.
Problem is, that health department is no longer there.
The Alabama Legislature cut funding for state budgets by nearly 11 percent, and voters didn’t approve a $200 million transfer from the Alabama Trust Fund to the General Fund to prop up state services. Some health departments were forced to open only a few days each week. Others — yours — closed altogether.
You and your child’s health care are a casualty of the Legislature’s decision to dramatically cut state services while refusing to consider alternative ways to raise revenue for necessities such as state health departments.
That’s a fictitious scenario.
But it’s also one that may occur throughout Alabama once administrators decide how evenly to spread the pain of the 10.6 percent budget cut to state spending. County health departments, as described in a story in Friday’s Star, are poised to be among the state agencies that will suffer.
Undoubtedly, that suffering will be passed on to Alabamians who rely on their local health departments for a variety of medical needs.
It would be wise to heed the words of State Health Officer Don Williamson, who told The Star to, in effect, expect the worst. “There absolutely will be budget cuts. There will be significant reductions in services, and then their budgets will be based on the rules we provide,” he said.
Here is another example of what happens when Alabama, a state with potential and beauty, opts to run state government on the cheap. It is a decision wrapped up in as much political cowardice as economic reality. It has become the Alabama way.
Don’t spend. Don’t improve.
Just cut, reduce and limit.
Yes, the economy is limping along following the Great Recession. We hear of jobs and economic sunshine in Huntsville and Mobile, but the rank-and-file Alabamian sees little of it. Instead, it’s the day-by-day existence of hoping layoffs and fiscal distress don’t bite you next.
Alabama’s lawmakers only exacerbate the problem. On the surface, their fiscal conservatism sounds wise. But state government isn’t a business — Alabamians rely on it for everything from police protection to reliable courts to, in this case, county health departments. Failing businesses close; state government can’t.
By not considering ways to keep these agencies running at a serviceable level, Montgomery is turning its back on those who depend on state government. This is another example of Montgomery failing to do its job.