House Passes Medicaid Cut, Baldwin County School Task Force

Aug 6, 2015

Alabama State Capitol

Last night, the Alabama House of Representatives approved a dramatic cut to Medicaid as lawmakers try to balance the General Fund budget.

Legislators in the House approved the $156 million dollar Medicaid cut on a second vote yesterday. The first vote failed.

Immediately afterward, the House passed its version of a General Fund budget. Funding for public health, prisons, mental health, human resources and the state’s courts would be unchanged. All other state agencies would see a 5.5% reduction in their operating budgets.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said Tuesday when the Medicaid cuts passed committee that the decision was not only unworkable but unacceptable. Bentley says if the proposed budget passes the Senate, he will veto it and call another special session.

Lawmakers have through Tuesday in the current session.

A committee of 26 individuals from all across Baldwin County is set to meet again tonight.

They are tasked with finding ways to come up with new revenue to fund the Baldwin County School System. The group met last month to get ideas from the committee and the public.

Kevin Corcoran is the Chairman of the Baldwin County Community Advisory Task Force. He says the task force’s five subcommittees will take ideas from last month’s meeting to move forward.

“They’re going to start delving in to the data they’ve been supplied and fine-tuning their direction so that henceforth, we can start heading towards our recommendation scenario. We’re going to have subject-matter experts again in, but it’s going to be almost entirely breakout.”

The group was created after a tax referendum was shot down a few months ago. This left the Baldwin County school system to brainstorm ideas for more funding. The task force will meet several more times in the coming months.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act.

APR’s Pat Duggins reports, supporters of the act are still angry over an Alabama court case they say gutted the measure.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama is trying to gather support for the "Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015.” The measure would restore the protections removed by the Supreme Court in 2013.

The high court deleted parts of the act requiring federal oversight in some communities. The decision was a hot topic during the 50th anniversary observance of “bloody Sunday” in Selma back in March.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren was among those who spoke out that day…

“It is a sin that we have not, in the United States Congress, reinvigorated the Voting Rights Act and gotten it back for the President’s signature. That’s what we should be talking about in Selma.”

Democrats are trying to push the Voting Rights Advancement Act. Republicans reportedly consider it a partisan issue.

The Federal Communications Commission is issuing half a million dollars to an Arkansas-based company to expand internet service in rural Alabama.

The FCC says Windstream Communications will be offering broadband service to nearly 3,800 customers in rural parts of Alabama. Windstream will receive $511,000 in what’s being described as annual, continuing support.

The money is coming from a program geared toward providing high-speed internet access to communities that wouldn’t otherwise be served.

Windstream has accepted nearly $175 million in federal funding to expand broadband service nationwide. Iowa will benefit the most of any state, with nearly 29 million dollars in subsidies toward expanded internet access there.