The Alabama State Senate stands up to terrorism, will the House do the same?

South Alabama has been threatening to kill any BP settlement money for Medicaid IF the rest of the state doesn’t give them more road money. This is terrorism, they are saying, “give us money or we will let kids die”.

There is a new twist too… People in south Alabama are depressed, so they need roads…

Those created issues for south Alabama legislators. The oil spill devastated Mobile and Baldwin counties’ tourism and seafood industries and led to mental suffering for those affected. Studies showed that Baldwin residents suffered elevated levels of depression three years after the disaster.

The State Senate did the right thing

In the end, the Senate approved the bill 21 to 9, but not before approving Orr’s substitute that eliminated hundreds of millions of dollars in road money for south Alabama, which could affect its chances in that body. The House Tuesday evening voted to send the bill to a conference committee between the two bodies. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said there was a “good possibility” that road money could be restored.

“Keep in mind the road issue in south Alabama is one that has been respected by the House,” he said. “The debt payment is a priority, and looking at the Senate bill sent down, the only point of contention would be how much money spent on roads goes to debt payment.”

The House last month passed a bill that would take the settlement as a single $639 million lump sum payment. $448 million would go to debt payment, with $161 million to the General Fund’s Rainy Day Account – which must be repaid by 2020 – and $287 million to the Alabama Trust Fund to help pay off an outstanding $422 million owed to that fund.

The House wants to take another crack at it.

South Alabama is still squealing…

“The citizens of Mobile and Baldwin County suffered from that oil spill from BP,” said Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile. “They did the suffering.”

Are these people out of their minds? Road dollars will help them not be depressed?

Here is the reality, south Alabama already got their BP settlement money and their roads should be treated like everyone else.

If they truly wanted to fix the issue, they would make local municipalities pay for local roads but I understand some roads are more important to the state than others. This however is a cash grab by south Alabama.

Even Orr’s solution is problematic, it kicks the can past the 2018 elections and does little else.

Orr’s substitute would give $300 million to Medicaid over three years and $323 million to debt repayment — $161 million to the Rainy Day fund and $162 million for other debt repayment. Orr, a former General Fund budget chairman, said the state needed to prepare for growing Medicaid needs when legislators return for the regular session in February.

“We’re going to be right here in this very place in February, and we do not have a plan,” he said. “I have been here long enough to know this body will not go easily down that road.”

The Senate rejected a substitute from Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, that would have appropriated about $95 million for road projects in coastal Alabama, and a substitute offered by Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, to Orr’s bill that would have reduced the Medicaid payment to two years and provided more money for debt.

Maybe next time.

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