41.2 F
38 F
38.7 F
22.7 F

Will Alabama expand Medicaid or raise taxes? GOP state senator says ‘nope!’

In the second half of Yellowhammer’s two-part interview with state senator Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City), the conservative stalwart discussed the issues he expects to come to the forefront during the next legislative session.

“Some of the biggest issues we’re going to face are going to be budgetary,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize that Alabama’s one of only three states that has two split budgets. We have everything education in one budget and everything else in the world that it takes to run the state in the other. The General Fund — all the ‘other’ — is woefully underfunded.”

But in spite of the budgetary challenges, Williams said his Republican colleagues are not even entertaining the idea of raising taxes.

“We’re fiscal conservatives. We’re going to balance the budget,” he said. “D.C. can’t even propose a budget, much less vote on one. In Alabama the last four years we’ve been passing balanced budgets. You’ve seen no proration. If you’re budget goes into proration it was unbalanced to begin with… We’ve been streamlining government, making cuts. We’ve saved over a billion dollars to our taxpayers.”

Williams said that in addition to tax hikes, he expects Democrats to propose a variety of ways to raise revenue and avoid shrinking the government, including the legalization of marijuana.

He also believes there will be a continued push to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

“We’re going to have to have those debates and stand our ground,” he said.

RELATED: Alabama is headed for gay marriage showdown

But the issue that has dominated the political debate in Alabama this year more than any other is the expansion of Medicaid.

Gov. Robert Bentley has been adamant that his administration will not expand the government healthcare program, a position that has drawn fire from his Democratic challenger, Parker Griffith.

Yellowhammer’s Cliff Sims asked Sen. Williams if he thought it would be a major issue in the next session of the legislature, and he gave an emphatic answer.

“Nope,” he said without hesitation. “And I say that because we’re not going to wind up expanding it. There’s no way in the world someone can look at that and say in the long term that Alabama can afford that. Currently Medicaid, by itself, consumes 33 percent of our General Fund Budget. Now, the big storyline that I’m hearing from the liberals and the Democrats on that side of the aisle is, ‘Well just take it, the federal government’s going to pay for it anyway.’ No they’re not, they’re going to pay for it in full for just three years. And the projections are that if we expand Medicaid under ObamaCare the way they’re calling for, then we would see an addition $220 million obligation to the state’s taxpayers by 2019.”

Williams said that Republicans have implemented Medicaid reforms over the last several years that are starting to go into effect.

“I think we have to continue to stand our ground and take care of taxpayer dollars and be good stewards of what we have,” he said.

Check out the full interview in the video above. And click here to see Part 1 of the interview on the gun range.

Follow Yellowhammer on Twitter @YHPolitics