Legislative House Black Caucus speaks out about General Fund budget

Published: Mar. 17, 2016 at 2:56 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2016 at 2:58 AM CDT
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Frustrated members of the Legislative House Black Caucus voiced their concerns over the General Fund budget that passed the House Tuesday.

The spending plan does not include an $85 million increase request for Medicaid, which black caucus leaders say will end up costing the state money and endanger residents.

They believe this is a no-brainer and that Medicaid has to be adequately funded.

The commissioner of Medicaid says the current budget would force a 22 percent across the board cut and make the state lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars.

Officials say putting in the money now would result in $745 million in federal funding for the state over the next five years. And the cuts to the agency would mean dropping 580,000 kids who depend on the program.

Leaders say alternatives were proposed over the two-day debate, like using $70 million from the BP oil spill settlement to help or by getting rid of some incentives for big corporations, but those ideas were not accepted.

"The supermajority was just unwilling to be sensitive to the needs of really poor people in this state and there are all kinds of innuendos and rumors out there about the Medicaid, but the numbers speak for themselves," Rep John Knight said. "We're talking about children. We're talking about children in the state of Alabama, and we have a supermajority in the House of Representatives that doesn't care anything at all, and they showed that yesterday."

The spending plan passed Tuesday night now goes to the Senate.

Members of the Black Caucus will speak to colleagues in the Senate in hopes of preventing it from getting to the governor.

However, Gov. Robert Bentley has said he will veto any budget that doesn't adequately fund Medicaid.

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