Why voters should vote ‘no’ to not raid the trust

Published 10:51 pm Monday, September 17, 2012

Dear Editor,

I read with interest the long article by some Dr. W. Jeff Terry advocating the passage of the Sept. 18th vote on raising the Trust Fund. And, this article was so rife with misstatements, etc. that I felt it incumbent to reply to such a matter.

First, as he so correctly states, before Gov. Bentley went into office two years ago, Medicaid was in trouble. Yet, Gov. Bentley and the legislature have done nothing in two years to straighten out these problems. But, Oh, just give them three more years and they will solve the problems that they haven’t even made a good faith effort to solve in two years.

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Dr. Terry repeatedly uses the phrase “borrow” throughout this article as if this money was being “borrowed” from the Trust Fund. The use of the word ‘borrow’ is in my opinion a falsehood. I will gladly give Dr. Terry a ‘C Note’ if he can find a legal obligation to repay the money being raided from the Trust Fund. Oh, yes, even Gov. Bentley is espousing his desire to repay the money being raided. But, is anyone legally obligated to repay this money? The answer is no. And state funds cannot be used to pay moneys for which the state is not obligated to pay.

Dr. Terry purports to be a medical doctor. What has he or the Ala. Medical Association done to quit all of the unnecessary medical testing being done? CT Scans and MRI’s are done for two distinctly different medical reasons. Yet, how many times are both ordered to be done? How many times would X-rays have accomplished the same end objective at a substantial savings? Yet, while President of the Medical Assoc. of Alabama did Dr. Terry advocate and pass guidelines to prohibit this wasteful spending? What are the “cost cutting fruits” of Dr. Terry’s presidency if there be any? I will wager you will find none.

It is very politically correct to “lock them up and throw away the keys” on a broken criminal justice system costing almost $20,000 per year per inmate. Yet, what has your legislature done to support Community Corrections or Work Release to repay the court for the defendant’s costs, reimburse victims, pay the cost of incarceration, etc.? These realistic programs are not ‘good politics’ so we continue to warehouse increasing numbers of inmates. And, since the number of inmate training programs, etc. continues to decline yearly, the name Department of Corrections increasingly becomes meaningless.

Please, don’t get me off on the power of the teachers unions. So, we continue to pay horrendous salaries to teachers after they have been convicted of crimes. The unions effectively prevent firing incompetent teachers. So, it is just easier to pay them, put them in administrative positions and keep on going. Wasn’t it the Birmingham System that had one administrator for every 20 students?

So, why was legislation passed to raid money from the trust fund? Our legislators would not deal with the issues that even Dr. Terry says they knew about more than two years ago. So, they want to raid, not borrow, 150 million per year for three years to keep business as usual. This gets us through two major election cycles. This legislation assumes that the problems cannot be solved for at least three more years. Our legislators and governor do not have to make the hard decisions. And, Gov. Bentley has said he will veto any legislation to raise taxes. So, where is the money going to come from in three years that is not there today?

Personally, I am going to vote no in the hope this legislation will fail. The legislature will be forced back into session and they will be forced (hopefully) to make the hard choices and I can make intelligent decisions on how to cast my vote in 2014.

No, I am not of the “chicken little school” of philosophy that many are using to try and emotionally “hype up’ the voters. Medicaid will not fail, the state pens will not be releasing murderers, etc. Rather, if our legislators do that to which they were elected, our system will be reformed and life will go on.

Blanchard McLeod