Keep America Working Promotes Yes Referendum Vote
A campaign is underway to promote the passage of a constitutional referendum that would take money from the state savings account to rescue the ailing General Fund budget.
A political action committee called Keep America Working has raised thousands of dollars to get a message out to voters.
It predicts dire consequences for multiple state agencies and the people of Alabama if a constitutional referendum fails.
The future of many of Alabama's state services will soon be in voter’s hands. Keep Alabama Working is urging people to vote yes to transfer 145 million dollars a year for three years from the Alabama trust fund to the General fund budget. The group says if the measure fails, agencies will face more cuts. It says prisons will be forced to release around 9500 inmates. It says cuts in Medicaid would cause some doctors to leave the state and force some hospitals to close.
State Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson agrees and says some doctors are already leaving.
“If this constitutional amendment fails and no other revenue sources are forthcoming you will see Medicaid unravel, if Medicaid unravels if won’t just be the Medicaid patients that are harmed it will be all of us it won't matter if you have blue cross if the doctor is not there if the hospital is not there whether you have blue cross or have a million dollars in cash to pay your bill it will not matter,” said Williamson.
The Alabama Nursing Home Association is supporting the K.A.W.s efforts. Spokesman John Matson says care for about sixty eight percent of nursing home residents is provided by Medicaid. He says if the measure fails some rural nursing homes could close.
“If you're a rural nursing home and eighty or ninety percent of your business is Medicaid and you take a twelve percent cut in that then you would not have the money to pay your debt service to pay your employees to keep the electricity turned on to keep your doors open,” said Matson.
Senator Dick Brewbaker says he will probably vote against the referendum. He says if it fails, he doesn't think the group's drastic predictions will really happen.
“It's possible but only if state government does absolutely nothing, what is more probable is that a special session will be called and the legislature will come back in and either restructure the budget or find some more revenue,” said Brewbaker.
The decision will be made by Alabama voters on September 18.
Lawmakers crafted next year’s 1.6 billion dollar general fund budget based on the amendment passing. If it fails, Medicaid is facing a shortfall of at least 100 million dollars.