Bentley predicts public safety and govt. services will be at risk if taxes aren’t hiked
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Governor Robert Bentley (R-AL) addressed members of the Huntsville and Madison County chambers of commerce Wednesday to spell out the agencies and state services that will be shutdown or slowed down if the Alabama Legislature fails to pass his $541 million tax hike proposal.
In his remarks, Governor Bentley said that due to cuts to the Department of Human Resources (DHR), 17,000 children of working poor families would lose their subsidized childcare, causing one or both parents to quit work to stay home and take care of them. “They’ll be on welfare,” Gov. Bentley said.
This number is derived from a letter sent by the director of DHR to Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), the Senate General Fund Budget chairman. Earlier this year Sen. Orr asked the head of each state agency to show him what a 15 or a 30 percent cut would look like for their department.
The cut to DHR would trigger a decrease in federal matching funds. Each cut of $1 from the state is a decrease of more than $3 from the federal match.
The Governor said the state may also have to close 15 of its 22 state parks, and cut prison funding.
“You might not care about prisoners,” he said, “but when you have them in your basement, you’re going to care.”
He urged the members of the audience, and the general public to encourage their legislators to pass the tax increase, reiterating that he is willing to call several special sessions of the state legislature this summer to accomplish his agenda if the tax hikes don’t pass during the regular session currently underway.
“It’s easy to say no, it’s harder to try to solve problems,” Gov. Bentley said. “I’m asking y’all to continue to give these guys support. Give them support because it is tough to make bold decisions.”
One cut Governor Bentley said would be made to DHR would cause 30,000 children to lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, otherwise known as food stamps.
“I know some of you don’t care about food stamps, but if it affects children, you should care,” the governor said.
SNAP benefits are administered by the state government, but are 100% paid for by tax dollars appropriated by the federal government, making it unclear how 30,000 children would be losing nutrition assistance.
UPDATE: The Governor clarified during a radio interview Thursday that he meant to say 30,000 poor children could lose access to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), not the SNAP program, or “food stamps.”
None of the Governor’s eight tax increase bills have made it to the floor in the House or Senate yet, as many legislators are hesitant to raise taxes.
Alabama is constitutionally mandated to have a balanced budget, so any gap between the estimated future expenditures of the state and tax revenues must be closed by either increasing taxes or cutting spending.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015