Sparks: gambling tax would fill Medicaid hole

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Democratic candidate for governor Ron Sparks says Alabama faces cuts in health care for the poor and elderly if the state doesn't generate new income by taxing and regulating gambling.

Sparks, the state agriculture commissioner, said the Medicaid program is propped up with federal stimulus money that will run out in September 2010. He said taxing and regulating gambling could help replace some of the stimulus funding.

Sparks first proposed taxing and regulating gambling in July. He's not saying what the tax rate should be or how much would be raised. But he said Tuesday he's the only candidate for governor who has proposed a plan to generate money for Medicaid.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)