This is the way Gov. Robert Bentley and legislators are running Alabama.
We borrow against next year’s crop in hopes that it will be sufficient to let us pay off — and out.
The latest example happened last year when, aware that the General Fund couldn’t carry the state through, the governor and state Legislature came up with a dandy plan. They asked the people of Alabama to amend the antiquated 1901 Constitution and allow the state to take money from the oil-and-gas revenue savings account and move it to the General Fund.
To sell this scheme to a skeptical public, proponents pointed out that if this was not done, hundreds, maybe thousands, of poor Alabamians would be kicked off Medicaid.
Thus, skeptics unwilling to see people suffer, including this page, reluctantly supported the plan.
Besides, we were told, the economy will turn around next year (or maybe the next), we can pay off what we borrowed and have enough left over to take care of the state’s needs.
Now Alabama, like sharecroppers of old, is finding out that next year’s crop will not cover the cost. State Health Officer Don Williamson has told lawmakers that there will not be enough money to fund Medicaid after 2014.
Alabama needs a Plan B.
In Bentley’s world, Plan B is to drop out of Medicaid all together.
Alabamians pay taxes to Washington, but when the federal government offers us a deal under President Obama’s plan to expand Medicaid — a plan that would send tax money back home where it would pay for the Medicaid expansion for three years and most of the expansion down the road — the governor talks about turning it down.
Bentley has said, in reference to expanding Medicaid as Washington has suggested, that his priority is “fixing the system we have, not expanding a broken system.”
Those are callous words for the poor, sick and needy who are served by Medicaid and who, in some cases, need those services to live. We assume the governor was not in the audience last year at the Tea Party/CNN Republican presidential debate when someone shouted “let him die” when the moderator asked what should happen to an uninsured 30-year-old who was hit with a catastrophic illness?
Instead, maybe the governor and legislators, unlike sharecroppers of old, have a backup plan they will unveil later in this session.
Maybe they will propose ways to fix our “broken system” of raising revenue, which is one of the reasons the state’s system of funding Medicaid is broken.
More likely, however, the state’s leaders will not lead. Instead, they will continue to run the state like sharecroppers used to farm — on the hope that the future will be better.
Unfortunately for sharecroppers and for Alabama, the future seldom lives up to expectations.