Democratic Party is still alive and well

Published 10:31 pm Monday, May 14, 2012

After the 2010 elections, I kept hearing people tell me that the Democratic Party was dead in Alabama. But this year, Democrats in the Alabama legislature have proven that we are alive and fighting harder than ever to protect the people of Alabama. Democrats have stepped up and provided leadership and solutions on a number of crucial issues that are facing our state.

One of the most significant issues facing our state is the budget crisis and the cuts to Medicaid. The only solution the Republican Supermajority could suggest was to cut 30 percent of Medicaid’s budget, even though the Republicans had been told that cutting that much from Medicaid would endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of Alabamians.

But Democratic leaders stepped up and offered a solution that would not only provide the money needed to save the Medicaid program, but would do so without raiding the Education Trust Fund and without raising a single tax or fee.

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Another critical issue we are facing this year is job creation and economic growth. At the start of this year’s legislative session, Democrats were the only ones to offer a job creation plan that actually required jobs to be created in order to receive government incentives. The plan would have created a small business loan program that borrowed money from the Trust Fund to provide loans to businesses that create a minimum of 5 new jobs. Because this money was a loan instead of a grant or tax credit, the money borrowed from the trust fund would have been repaid with interests. But the Democratic plan was never considered. Instead, the Republican Supermajority proposed a tax incentives plan for corporations that would deprive schools of much needed revenue. These corporations would not even be required to create a single job in exchange for these tax incentives. Thankfully, Democrats in the Senate were able to kill this disastrous proposal.

But perhaps the most significant victory Democrats have had this year has been killing charter schools. Charter schools would take money from our already underfunded schools and cost our schools one teacher for every six students who transfer to a charter school. Perhaps the biggest reason to oppose charter schools is that they do not perform any better than traditional public schools. In fact, charter schools are twice as likely to fail as they are to surpass performance at public schools.

The Republican Supermajority in Montgomery has continued to run over our working families, elderly and children. But state Democrats are still fighting (and winning!) for Alabamians.