Proposed state budget is simply un-ChristianPublished 4:46pm Monday, April 16, 2012
I keep hearing my Republican colleagues talk about their Christianity; yet, this past week they showed the opposite by passing one of the most un-Christian budgets I have ever seen.
As a Christian, I could not vote yes for a budget that would hurt more people than it would actually help. The Alabama House of Representatives passed a general fund budget that endangers the lives of thousands of Alabama’s children, families and seniors. The cuts in this budget are so severe that eleven Republicans went against their own Party’s leadership and joined House Democrats in voting against this budget.
The cuts in this budget include cutting or eliminating funding for healthcare programs, nutrition and food assistance programs and public safety.
One of the most significant cuts in this budget is a 30 percent cut in funding for Medicaid, a joint federal and state healthcare program for children, the disabled and nursing home residents.
Last week, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bentley called these cuts to Medicaid “irresponsible,” while Dr. Pippa Abston, a pediatrician from Huntsville, has said these cuts will cause children in Alabama to die.
The cuts to Medicaid also endanger the health and lives of thousands of adults in Alabama. Because of these cuts to the Medicaid’s budget, many elderly people will be forced out of their nursing homes, patients will no longer receive the necessary medications and services such as hospice and dialysis may be eliminated. Blood will be on the hands of those who voted for this un-Christian budget.
But cutting Medicaid’s budget is not only “irresponsible,” it is also foolish. For every dollar the state spends on Medicaid, the federal government matches it at a rate of more than two-to-one. By cutting $175 million from Medicaid’s budget, Alabama is leaving at least $525 million on the table. In addition to the Medicaid cuts, this budget cut more than 32 percent from the Department of Public Health, including funding for early detection of breast and cervical cancer, leaving thousands of women at risk.
Alabama’s children are especially penalized by this budget. This budget also cut more than 24 percent of funding for the Department of Human Resources. The Department of Human Resources oversees programs such as child support and food assistance. Without adequate funding, many families may be put in jeopardy because of delays or clerical errors with their child support or food assistance cases.
On paper, it appears that the Department of Corrections, which oversees the state’s prison system, is being cut by more than 10 percent, but the Senate has used a backdoor approach to return that amount to the Department of Corrections.
It appears the Republican Supermajority is more concerned about incarcerating individuals than caring for the elderly in state-funded nursing homes.
Alabama’s children, families and seniors deserve better than what they are getting in this budget.