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Gov. Bentley Thinks The USA Needs To Be More Like Alabama

by: countrycat

Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 12:26:33 PM CDT

Alabama's Doctor Governor Bentley needs a doctor himself if his recent public statements are any indication.  There's this nugget from a speech yesterday: "The federal government needs to look at Alabama. I'll tell them how to run the government." 

Ok, so there are some good things that other parts of the country could emulate.  By & large, the people here are friendly and care about their neighbors.  We're willing to help in disasters - so much so that willing volunteers get turned away because there is too much help on hand.  Overall, people have pretty good traffic manners: I'd rather drive here than in many other places.  The cost of housing isn't outrageous & most commutes are quite short by big city standards.  We have a vibrant arts community and a lot of beautiful, unspoiled land.

But Governor Bentley didn't mean that.  He was talking about education and economic development, which leads us to wonder if he's either on medication or needs some.

Why would any other state - let alone the federal government! - want to copy Alabama?  This is hardly a record to aspire to: 

Alabama is one of the states that refused to expand Medicaid, even though 16% of the state's adults are uninsured. And Bentley is fine with that:

Echoing comments Tuesday by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange,the governor said he hopes the high court strikes down the subsidies and that the whole law implodes as a result.

"It's a way we, as states, can fight Obamacare, and that's what we did," he said. 

Doctor Governor Bentley may want to show the USA how to "live the Alabama way," but chances are, the US will say "no thanks." 


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Special Session? Gov. Bentley Wants Schoolchildren To Help Pay For Corporate Welfare."

by: countrycat

Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

I had to check this several times to make sure it wasn't satire, but no... Alabama's Doctor Governor is writing a prescription after the election: a special Legislative session to divert money from the state's Education Trust Fund to pay for corporate welfare.

Gov. Robert Bentley said Wednesday that he plans to call a special session of the Legislature after the November election to shift from the state's General Fund to education funding to pay for economic incentives to lure new businesses.

Speaking at a workforce development summit in Washington County, Bentley noted that the state is running short on money to lure manufacturers and other larger employers. That money traditionally has come from the General Fund, which pays for Medicaid, prisons and other non-education functions of government.

But Bentley said the additional tax benefits that new businesses bring to Alabama mostly flow to the Education Trust Fund.

"Who pays for the incentives? It's not education, but they benefit from it totally. ... You ought to eat what you kill," he said. 

"Eat what you kill?"  WTH?  Is he writing his own prescriptions for controlled substances now?  This isn't the first time Bentley has suggested this plan:

"If education is benefiting from it, we need to look and see if some of the incentive money should come from that way. ... Whoever benefits ought to pay." 

But... but.... isn't that the way it works NOW?  Who's supposed to benefit from new jobs?  The people who get those jobs & the communities where they spend their paychecks.  Hello, Governor?  Those people are already paying because the state for years has looted the General Fund to pay for "incentives."  That's money that is not available to pay for essential state services and only the separation of the General Fund from the Education Trust Fund has protected the school funding. 

He's been clear about his priorities for quite a while.  Witness the outlandish bidding war over Boeing at the end of last year:

Bentley isn't saying how big Alabama's offer was. But he said that after landing several big projects - including Boeing's competitor, Airbus, for a $600 million plant in Mobile - the state will need to create new financial incentives because its current ones are about used up.

To recruit Airbus in 2012, Alabama provided a variety of state and local tax breaks and $158 million for bond expenses, site and road improvements, building costs and worker training. That plant is supposed to create about 1,000 jobs. 

Let's look at why the General Fund is "running short of money" to make these welfare payments pay these "incentives."  Between state and local governments, our checkbooks are open and our eyes are closed:  

Can it be that Bentley got this idea from North Alabama?  After all, Decatur asked Limestone County Schools to help fund a huge retail development called "Sweetwater" in 2013.  Why?  This sounds familiar:

Limestone County Commissioner Gary Daly said the school system is likely to see an additional $1 million per year from the development and should "ante up." 

It wasn't enough that Sweetwater was going to be partially funded with $40 million in sales tax rebates.  No: they went after school money too. 

Instead of raiding school funding to get even more $$ to give away, why aren't we asking the obvious question:  do these giveaways/incentives actually pay for themselves and benefit the state?  Nobody in Alabama state government can answer that question, unfortunately.

Are the jobs worth the cost to taxpayers?  We'll never know because Alabama has no evaluation program in place to show what we get in exchange for $277 million in corporate gifts.  A recent Pew Research Center report indicates that most states, like Alabama, don't properly evaluate the effectiveness of tax incentives and other "job creation" giveaways.  Our public officials are blindly throwing money at corporations and thankful to get any crumb of economic development in return ... plus a photo-op at the groundbreaking ceremony.

This is important.  Every dollar spent on tax incentives, infrastructure or other giveaways to attract business and jobs is a dollar local and state governments can't spend on education, health care, transportation for the rest of us and critical government services.  As the recent Medicaid funding crisis illustrated, Alabama doesn't have any dollars to spare.  Incentive programs ought to be monitored to make sure taxpayers are getting a good deal, not just giving free money to corporations. 

Governor Bentley isn't suggesting that. He just wants to take, take, take from the schools & give, give, give to big business.

Read here what Lt. Governor candidate James Fields has to say about that strategy. 

UPDATE:  LOL... the Governor is now explaining that whatever people thought they heard him say, or whatever he said... he didn't mean it that way.  Or something.


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Media Alert: Ron Crumpton will be on WDNG 1450 AM to Discuss Politics and the Hijacking of Event

by: RonCrumpton2014

Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 13:53:34 PM CDT

Publication1Tomorrow (7/24/14), Ron will be a guest on WDNG 1450 AM’s “Model City AM” from 9:05 until 9:30 a.m.

In one-half the interview, Ron will be discussing the hijacking of his campaign event by Stephanie Engle, Chair of the Talladega Democratic Party. He intends to be at the event tomorrow evening and will be asking supporters to join him at the Ritz Theatre and demand that he participate in the event.

The other half will focus on the issues facing Alabama Senate District 11 and real world solutions for solving those problems.

I urge you to listen in and then join me in Talladega!

If you are not in the Anniston listening market, live streaming is available here!

Candidate Website 

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Rebuilding The Alabama Democratic Party - Georgia Style

by: countrycat

Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 11:30:00 AM CDT

In 2010, the Georgia Democratic Party had a lot in common with the ADP - massive losses in local and legislative offices, a Republican legislative supermajority, and a depleted bank account.  It seemed the end to a death spiral that had started in 2002.  But now, just 4 years later, Georgia Democrats are back, re-energized, and could scoop up some high-profile offices.

Compare that to the state of the Alabama Democratic Party, where the ADP failed to recruit candidates for 44 of the 105 seats in the Alabama House.   Yes, we handed the GOP 42% of House seats without even a fight & now those candidates can spend money helping defeat Democrats in other districts.

The ADP hasn't updated its Web site since Feb. 7. Meanwhile, the Georgia Democratic Party is busily organizing its 2014 state convention where county party delegates (and other Georgia Democrats) will meet, party, and discuss the direction of the party.

How can things be so different in our neighboring states?  The American Prospect has an excellent article this month about the resurgence of the Georgia Democratic Party:

By 2010, when Barnes lost a comeback bid by ten points—and Republicans locked down General Assembly majorities so powerful they could gerrymander to their hearts’ content—it looked like Democrats would be relegated for the rest of the decade to registering nonvoters and watching the demographics continue to swing in their favor. 
While Georgia Democrats looked long-term, however, national Democrats had noticed the narrowness of President Obama’s defeats in the state—it was the second-closest state he lost in both 2008 and 2012, despite the absence of any Democratic campaign. Meanwhile in Atlanta, young volunteers, most of them African American, were keeping the troubled party’s operations afloat and devising new get-out-the-vote strategies. “Young Democrats did the work when the party was in trouble,” says T.J. Copeland, president of the Young Democrats of Atlanta. Old and (mostly) new groups—Better Georgia, ProGeorgia, Moral Monday, the NAACP, the New Georgia Project—were building the scaffolding for a statewide progressive network. 

Pay close attention to that last part in bold:  Young Democrats uniting with progressive organizations in the state, "building the scaffolding" for a statewide network.  Let's look at some of these organizations: 

  • Georgia NAACP - the grandparent of grassroots organizing and advocacy.  It networked with new progressive groups and worked with them, instead of seeing new groups as a threat to the NAACP's turf. 
  • Better Georgia:Better Georgia is the state's fastest growing progressive advocacy organization. We are here to make sure our elected officials listen to Georgia families and the people who work hard each day. The debate in Georgia has been between the right and the far right for too long. Better Georgia is working to change the debate and change our state. 
  • ProGeorgia: ProGeorgia is building infrastructure by supporting, connecting, and coordinating civic participation efforts of our non-profit member groups. And ProGeorgia is implementing ways to win policy and electoral battles for progressive social change.
  • Moral Monday Georgia: Moral Monday Georgia is a multiracial, multi-issue coalition of citizens working for positive change for the public good. Our coalition stands against all forms of discrimination and amplifies the voices and ideas of folks in marginalized circumstances. 
  • New Georgia Project: Georgia's population is growing and becoming increasingly diverse. Over the past decade, the population of Georgia increased 18%. The Rising American Electorate (RAE) - people of color, those 18 to 29 years of age, and unmarried women - is a significant part of that growth. The RAE makes up 62% of the voting age population in Georgia, but they are only 53% of registered voters.  The New Georgia Project is a nonpartisan effort to register and civically engage these Georgians.
These organizations are working with the Georgia Democratic Party now, but they formed & became active in the political process independent of the party, which was drifting aimlessly after losing power in the state.
Sound like a familiar story?  The difference between Alabama & Georgia is that the GDP has embraced this new reality, but Alabama Democratic leadership is fighting change tooth and nail. 
Compare the energy and engagement of Georgia Democratic activists to Alabama, where our state Democratic Party committee has repeatedly refused to even allow a vote on proposals to increase the diversity of party leadership.  


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Alabama AG Luther Strange's Tax Hike Plan Wins Temporary Federal Court Victory

by: countrycat

Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange took to Facebook yesterday and bragged about his role in a federal appeals' court decision in Halbig vs Burwell.  This is the case that attempts to end ACA tax credits for families in states that participate in the federal marketplace - a group that includes Alabama. When families lose those credits, their federal tax bills will rise. Mark your calendar, because this is surely an enormous reversal of the long-time GOP mantra of "no taxes, no where, no how."

Luther Strange Obamacare
As part of his self-stated job goal to "think up ways to sue President Obama," Strange signed the state of Alabama on to this complaint that makes a rather startling claim: people who live in states that refused to set up a state insurance marketplace aren't eligible for federal tax credits that make insurance affordable for most families.  However, consumers in states that did set up their own state-run exchanges will be eligible. 

If this ruling holds, it means that those of use in these unlucky, mostly GOP-led, will receive no benefits from a program supported by our tax dollars. It means insurance will become more unaffordable for many working families and could increase premiums as the pool of insured people shrinks.  Meanwhile, Alabama taxpayers will continue to subsidize generous health care benefits for Luther Strange.

In Alabama right now, this tax hike ruling affects about 85,000 people.  Wait until they hear what their AG has accomplished in their name.

Strange & company like to refer to the families who receive tax credits as "takers, "moochers," & other unflattering names - even though they're receiving far less help from the federal government than say, Chinese manufacturer Golden Dragon received from the State of Alabama this year.

Let's review some important points about the health insurance industry in this country and how most people actually get health insurance coverage.  

For the vast majority, insurance is an employer-provided benefit and - surprise! - a subsidy from the taxpayers.   Big Luther & his buddies want you to think that these tax credits & subsidies are something new, when in fact 160 million people received health insurance subsidies before Obamacare:  

Obamacare insurance subsidies are expected to cost $1 trillion over ten years.  An estimated 160 million people have employer-provided coverage, and tax subsidies for employer-provided coverage cost the federal treasury $200 billion in 2007.  

Multiply that $200 billion by 10 years and the federal treasury takes a $2 trillion hit - twice the cost of ACA premium subsidies. 


People without employer-paid coverage have been helping pay the freight for the other 160 million for a long time, and frankly, the whining coming from some in that group of beneficiaries is getting really, really tiresome.   

In Alabama, a heck of a lot more people get subsidized employer coverage than received tax credits for ACA coverage.  Will our Attorney General be coming after them next?  Probably not, because it's easier to protray the people purchasing their own coverage as "takers" and people who want a free ride.  

Except that we aren't. Yes campers!  The cathouse family receives a tax credit.  We qualify because we have a small business that turns a profit.  Not a huge one, but one large enough to support the family.  Prior to the ACA, health insurance payments were our largest monthly expense - approaching $1200/month for pretty crappy coverage.  Post-ACA, even if we hadn't qualified for a credit, we would have STILL paid hundreds less for better coverage.  And I bet you that most Mom & Pop businesses, independent contractors, & struggling entrepreneurs can tell the same story.

There are no "takers" or "freeloaders" getting these ACA tax credits.  You have to have income - and income that raises you above the Medicaid level.  You can be part of the working poor - people who struggle to stay above the poverty line and may work multiple low-wage jobs without benefits to do that.  Or you might be a middle class family that made the sacrifice to have one breadwinner & one spouse home with the children.  The key here is that all these people work and work hard.  What's amazing is that the Republican begrudge the little help these families get from the government at the same time they cheerlead for bigger corporate tax breaks & subsidies.

For years, small businesses & the self-employed  - and the uninsured! - have subsidized the people who receive employer-provided coverage.  The ACA finally leveled the playing field.  So what does our state's Attorney General do?  File suit in federal court to raise the tax burden on our family & others like us.

Joe Hubbard: this is your golden campaign moment.  Don't squander it.


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SD-11 What Happened To Ron Crumpton's Medicaid Expansion Townhall?

by: countrycat

Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 11:52:01 AM CDT

This Thursday, 7/24, SD-11 Candidate Ron Crumpton will be hosting a townhall style meeting in Talledega to discuss Medicaid Expansion and Healthcare in Alabama.  Or will he?  According to the candidate, his event was taken over by the Talledega County Democratic Party.  Crumpton was removed from the list of speakers, and the event is now being promoted by the Talledega County Democratic Committee & the Parker Griffith campaign. 

On Crumpton's campaign Web site, he relates his discussions with the county chair:

She wanted to broaden the event from the beginning. I had two problems with that.

As discussed earlier, I did not want it to become a collection of sound bites. The original topic was healthcare and Medicaid expansion

  1. She wanted to add some VA issues to the slate, while I support veterans as a state legislator I would have very little over the VA, which is a federal agency. Basically, I would not have a dog in that fight, so I felt it would be more important to discuss the issues that I would have a direct impact on.

I thought the issue was settled, until I saw the Stephanie’s press release billing it as “Medicaid Expansion, Veterans’ Health Issues, and the Economy.” This decision was made above my original objection to broadening the theme of the event. I was not consulted, and it was circulated to the press without my having ever seen it.

Furthermore, she knew that I had already circulated a press release and her press release had a name other than the name that had been discussed, and billed the event as an event sponsored by the Talladega County Democratic Party.

When I complained to Stephanie, she told me that it would not be changed and asked, “Would you like me to remove your name from the Daily Home notice?”

The ensuing debate has resulted in her removing me from the event, then adding me back, then removing me, then adding me back, and I am currently removed.

She used her status as a county party chair as her reasoning for having the authority to remove me from my own event.

County chairs do not have the right to take over a candidate’s event. 


The fact that I AM NOT BEING ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE in an event started as my campaign is inconceivable.

It is simple, the chair of the Talladega Democratic Party is damaging the campaign of a Democratic Nominee for State Senate because he stood up for his campaign.

Is this the purpose of the Talladega Democratic Party? 

Now, the Talledega Democratic Committee doesn't have a Web site or even a Facebook page, so maybe this is simply inexperience with dealing with media and communications.  But surely, it's a shabby way to treat a candidate and the original organizer of the event.  Democratic candidate for Governor Parker Griffith is promoting this event's Facebook page through social media, however.

It's sad to have to report on these kinds of shenanigans within the Democratic Party - but even worse to say nothing (in the interest of party "unity" - a reason that always seems to benefit those in power at the expense of those questioning it) and let candidates get pushed around by their county parties.  Surely, some of the other invited candidates will speak up and speak out. 


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Celebrating Our 11,000 Post Today!

by: countrycat

Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 11:00:00 AM CDT

Wow, this milestone sneaked up on us, but it's amazing: Since April, 2007 LIA contributors have written 11,002 posts on topics ranging from state politics to national issues to the history and culture of Alabama.

It's an amazing amount - especially when you consider that the blog is an all-volunteer effort and we just held our first-ever fundraiser this spring.  That means all those trips to cover events, interview candidates, and do research have mostly been paid for out-of-pocket by the person who wrote the post.  Ditto with the video cameras & editing software.  As well as the substantial cost of attending and covering two political conventions.  Not complaining at all - just marveling at how much LIA contributors have accomplished. 

These 11,000 articles have generated over 77,000 comments.  Some good, some bad, and some out-and-out pie fights.

During the past year, 90% of the comment activity has taken place on the LIA Facebook page instead of here on the blog.  That makes sense because it's a lot easier to comment on FB: you're already logged in and just start typing instead of going to the process to create an account.

So here's the question, readers:

We're considering migrating the blog away from the SoapBlox platform (it's being maintained now, but not updated or upgraded, and it's expensive). We'd use WordPress as our new platform and that would require a change to the commenting system.  There are various options for comments, including displaying Facebook comments on the blog.

Comments, suggestions, concerns about a move to Facebook commenys?  Please share!

Ideally, we could implement a dual system where you could use your FB account to comment but also have a way to display comments from people who don't use FaceBook. 

When we transition, all of the article content will be preserved, but it looks like we'll lose all the comments - all 77,000...  

Your thoughts? 

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Alabama Republican Supermajority Isn't Competent To Manage The State's Budget

by: countrycat

Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Think back to those thrilling days of yesteryear (2012) .... when the Alabama GOP supermajority balanced the state budget - at gun point. The Legislature passed a budget that spent money they didn't have - and might not get unless voters fell for their publicity campaign - "we'll throw Grandma out of the nursing home & empty the prisons if you don't vote YES on September 18."

donkey kicking elephant

Realizing perhaps that they were dealing with the truly politically unhinged, the minority of state voters who bothered to participate in the $3.4 million special election blinked. We "borrowed" $146 million with a "promise" (but no guarantees) to begin repaying the money in 2015 - conveniently past the 2014 mid-term elections.

Not surprisingly, the four years of GOP Supermajority rule has been disastrous for the state - and it's going to get worse if we keep them in absolute control of state government. 

State Senate President Pro-Tem Del Marsh is ruling out tax increases to cover expected budget shortfalls in 2015.  Instead, he says, the state could cut its workforce by 9%. But how much more can the state cut?  At this point, we're not worried about hitting bone - we face cutting off entire limbs.  Criminal justice in the state is already at risk because of cuts to state crime labs.

The state workforce has been reduced 11 percent since 2011, and Mac McArthur, the director of the Alabama State Employees Association, said the result has been increased workloads for state employees. McArthur said additional cuts could affect the delivery of services and leave state departments out of compliance with certain federal guidelines.

"I don't know how you sustain 9 percent cuts, or any significant cuts, period," he said. 

There will be a huge temptation for Legislators to kick the can down the road one more time & put off paying back they money they extorted from the Alabama Trust Fund.

The General Fund gets most of its funding from non-growth revenue sources, and has been in a perpetual state of crisis for the past seven years, due to flat growth and mounting costs in the state's Medicaid and Corrections programs. Lawmakers building the budget next year will have to deal with the loss of $145 million borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund, and the potential loss of $50 million in one-time money used in the budget this year that may or may not be available for the FY 2016 budget, which begins on Oct. 1, 2015.

Don't be surprised if they come up with a scheme to borrow even more.  They used a gimmick to balance the previous budgets and made sure the bill didn't come due until after the 2014 elections.

Will we put these clowns back in power in November?  I hope not.


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HD-93 - Jennifer Marsden Picks Up State & National Endorsements

by: countrycat

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 12:05:00 PM CDT

Dr. Jennifer Marsden, Democratic candidate for Alabama legislative district HD-93 has had a busy summer.  In addition to receiving the Progressive Majority endorsement, Marsden's campaign recently announced four more important endorsements from state and national organizations:

Dr. Jennifer Marsden

Dr. Marsden said, “I am humbled to receive the endorsements of multiple organizations both in state and nation-wide." She recently returned from a WCF fundraising event in New York City and attendees at the Dale County Democratic Headquarters were excited to hear that their candidate for District 93 had garnered so much support.

Larry Keel of the Wiregrass Labor Council said, "We are happy to endorse Dr. Marsden for State House District 93. She is a good Democrat and a strong supporter of Labor." Union leaders of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2003 thanked her for her support during their recent strike. Dr. Marsden was a member of American Federation of Government Employees Local 503 (Montgomery, AL) while working at the Wiregrass VA Clinic in Fort Rucker.

"Jennifer Marsden running against Steve Clouse who voted against spay/neuter clinics. Thank you so very much. We're drumming up support for you; definitely want to see you in the House! We are more than happy with Dr. Marsden and will be notifying all AVRAL members in her district to vote for her.  She definitely has our strongest endorsement." said Dr. Rhonda Parker, AVRAL State Chair.

League of Humane Voters state director Victoria Nichols stated that "we are happy to inform Dr. Marsden that we can endorse her. And we will encourage our members to vote on our recommendation of you." 

“Women’s Campaign Fund is proud to endorse Jennifer Marsden in her race to represent Alabama’s 93rd district in the State House,” said Clare Bresnahan, Political & Programs Director for WCF.  “As a decorated military veteran, doctor, and tireless advocate for affordable healthcare for all Alabamians, Jennifer is precisely the kind of experienced woman leader we need in state legislatures across the country. This is also an opportunity for Alabama to make history by electing the first woman to ever represent this district in the State House.”

HD-93 stretches across the Wiregrass area of the state, including parts of Dale & Houston Counties and a portion of the city of Dothan.

Meet Dr. Marsden in person at these upcoming events:

  • Porktoberque Sept 26-27 in Dothan
  • Ozark's Claybank Jamboree Oct 4

Read previous Left in Alabama coverage of Dr. Marsden, find her on Facebook, and visit her campaign Web site to learn more. 


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"What Me Worry?" Alabama Economy Circling The Drain While Gov. Bentley Drinks Tea

by: countrycat

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:00:00 AM CDT

Legend has it that "Nero fiddled while Rome burned," but Alabama Governor Robert Bentley isn't musically inclined, so he's contented himself with sipping a strong TEA Party beverage called "Denial." As Alabama reports some of the poorest job growth numbers in the nation, Gov. Bentley and his GOP supermajority continue to push their "jobs program:" hire outside lawyers & consultants to defend unconstitutional legislation, think up ways to sue President Obama, and refuse the Medicaid expansion that could bring tens of thousands of news jobs to the state and make the population healthier and more productive.

GOP clowns

Governor Bentley's capacity for denial seems limitless - particularly in light of recent news reports.

Lack of Medicaid Expansion Will Cost Alabama Billions of Dollars & Thousands of Jobs

The study argues that expanding Medicaid would bring a number of financial benefits, as well, both for recipients and governments. It estimates a reduction in the number of Alabamians facing "catastrophic," out-of-pocket health costs of 10,500. The total reduction among all holdout states would be 255,000. Also, 33,400 fewer Alabamians and 810,000 fewer Americans overall would have trouble paying other bills because of medical costs if the other states expanded, the study argues.

For states, the report states, declining federal expansion funds will cost states $88 billion through 2016. Alabama will lose $3.63 billion in federal funds and will miss out on 15,100 additional jobs and $2.65 billion in increased economic activity through 2017, according to the study.

Nationwide, the holdout states could boost employment by 379,000 jobs through 2017 and increase economic activity by $66 billion if they all expanded Medicaid, according to the report.

The UAB study projected the state would gain some $6.8 billion in federal funds through 2017, with an indirect economic impact of 4.7 billion.

A follow-up study by the University of Alabama last year, commissioned by the Alabama Hospital Association, estimated an even greater employment impact – some 30,000 new jobs. 

Instead, our Doctor Governor thinks we're better off creating new jobs via corporate welfare giveaways that replace good middle class jobs with low-wage ones.  (See Lt. Governor James Fields' explanation of that).  Bentley's tea is so strong that he saw nothing wrong with bragging that the state gave a Chinese company $190 million to build a $100 million plant - one that directly competes with an existing Alabama industry. 

In spite of such sweetheart deals and shady math, Alabama's economy is sagging.  Hey, 4 years of a GOP supermajority and Republican Governor will do that to a state - just ask Kansas.  Alabama's unemployment rate is almost 7% & the state lost 3500 jobs between May & June. 

The bulk of those losses came from the public sector. Despite local governments adding 1,300 jobs, state government shed nearly 4,000 positions, for a net loss of 2,600 jobs in Alabama government.

But beyond the state's shrinking government, Alabama's private sector is shrinking, too. Employment in Alabama's private sector shrank by about 1,000 jobs from May to June, according to the report.

The construction, financial activities and education and health services industries each shed jobs from May to June, the report shows. Construction employment remains below 80,000 jobs; at its peak, Alabama's construction industry employed more than 110,000 people. 

Don't worry campers!  The GOP Supermajority has a plan!  Lay off more state workers.  What the heck... we don't need those stinking crime labs, state troopers, or people auditing state inventory, right?

The leader of the Alabama Senate on Monday emphatically rejected the possibility of new taxes to address a looming budget shortfall in 2015, instead saying the answer could be further reductions in the state's work force. 

We certainly need to trim the state payroll in one place: the Legislature.  We have a crew down there now with no interest in good government.  They exist to serve their campaign contributors and line their pockets in the revolving door from legislator to lobbyist.

We the voters can change all this in November.  But we need to get busy NOW.  Contact your local Democratic candidate for the legislature and volunteer.  Statewide candidates need your help too.  James Fields can bring some order to the disorder in the State Senate as Lt. Governor and Miranda Joseph can hopefully control the huge problem wiith "lost & stolen" equipment (including numerous firearms) from state agencies. And AG candidate Joe Hubbard can be a real state attorney general, not a publicity hound.

Let's get to work now to elect competent people to state government.  For sure, the state has had four long years of clowns and that's too darn long.


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SD-13 Help Darrell Turner Defeat Incumbent State Senator Gerald Dial

by: countrycat

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Democrat Darrell Turner is running hard against incumbent Republican State Senator Gerald Dial, and he needs your help getting the Democracy For America (DFA) endorsement.  Visit the DFA page to voice your support for Turner.  Here's a snippet of his message on the DFA site:  

Darrell Turner
I'm running because I'm tired of feeling like I have no one to call in Montgomery to express my concerns. Over the past four years of a supermajority in the legislature, working people have been made second-class to big-business, children's educations have been turned into a profit-making venture for a few wealthy individuals and bills have been passed behind closed doors in the middle of the night. 

I'm not going to stand for that. Our current state senator is running for his tenth term in the legislature, and I believe it's time for new leadership who will stand up for hard work, protect public education and do the work of government with honesty and integrity. 

Read his entire statement at the DFA page or visit Darrell Turner's campaign Web site.  Like him on Facebook too!

Wondering if this race is worth your time, effort, & money?  Oh... we have quite the history of Gerald Dial's activities in the Legislature documented here at LIA.  For example, he's the guy who announced that he was "too busy to meet with citizens during the Legislative session in 2012." Check it out for yourself!

The governor's race is the high-profile race in this state and will get a lot of attention from voters.  But understand this very important fact: Alabama's governor has very little power over legislation.  The state constitution allows the legislature to override the governor's veto with a simple majority vote.  Sure, having a good governor who won't embarrass the state and who can use the bully pulpit to push for good legislation is important.  But the real fight in 2014 is in the Legislature.  If we don't break the power of the GOP supermajority, we're at the mercy of Mike Hubbard (or whomever takes over after he takes a field trip to the Big House) & other GOP big business lackeys.

Real progress in this state will only come about if we get busy in our local legislative races.  Darrell Turner & other Democrats like him need our help.

Now that the primary runoff races are over, here at LIA we'll be focusing on these important races and interviewing as many candidates as possible.  All Democratic campaigns are welcome to create accounts and post about their campaign issues and events.


Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Bidding A Sad, But Fond Farewell To An LIA Regular Contributor

by: countrycat

Sat Jul 19, 2014 at 08:54:03 AM CDT

If there's an afterlife, Saint Satin Stain will surely take an honored place in the poet's corner.  Thomas Weatherly departed this life Wednesday, and we'll surely miss him. He was born in Scottsboro, traveled widely, and then came back to live in Huntsville.  He was just 72.

Thomas Weatherly

Weatherly's free verse about race, inequality, history, and other topics were always insightful and humorous. I was amazed how he could pack so much meaning into so few words.

For instance, there was his analysis of national political rhetoric:

there are still a few good ideas 

from the right, except no one on 

the right says them in public. 


A fact some folk on the left state 

them proves them more thoughtful 

than most folks on today's right.

The right will not accept ideas 

spoken on the left, even if the 

original source is on the right.


So lefty should state in public 

that all people should eat less 

than two grams of lead each day  

And during the Trayvon Martin murder trial, he suggested that we get together and form the perfect street gang.  He'd be the scary black guy who would attract all the police & security guard attention while Mooncat and I walked unnoticed into the store & stole whatever we wanted.  For the record, we passed on that opportunity, but that comment shows how adept he was at distilling the essence of a complex situation into a single sentence.

Condolences to Weatherly's friends and family.  We know they'll miss him in their lives and we'll surely miss him at Left in Alabama.

May his memory be a blessing. 


Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Consumers & Comedians Were The Biggest Losers In Yesterday's Primary Runoff

by: countrycat

Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:59:01 AM CDT

National comedians and Alabama Democrats won't have Dale Peterson & Shadrack McGill to kick around any more.  In an astonishing display of good judgment on the part of Alabama Republicans, both lost their primary runoff races yesterday.  And it wasn't even close: Peterson got just 35% of the vote for State Auditor and McGill received 37% in his bid for Jackson County Revenue Commissioner.

Shadrack McGill

Here at Left In Alabama, we just have to bid McGill a proper farewell by posting our favorite McGill photo one last time.

It's truly a shock that both lost.  For years, they've provided a freakish, carnival sideshow spectacle to political observers in Alabama - and some of their antics became nationally famous.  Who could forget Dale Peterson and his horse or the McGill family discussing strippers and Facebook hookers on the Today Show?  But yesterday, voters declined to nominate a convicted shoplifter for State Auditor or elect a Revenue Commissioner for Jackson County whose only qualification for the job was bizarre ideas on public employee salaries and an creepy obsession with women's reproductive systems.

How annoying was Shadrack McGill?  Even Dale Peterson couldn't stand him.

Consumers took a hit yesterday too when Terry Dunn lost his spot on the Public Service Commission.  Dunn got into hot water for asking a question you'd think every PSC Commissioner would ask:  "Can we get utility rates down?"  Alabama Power's answer to that was, obviously, "NO" and they backed Dunn's opponent, Chip Beeker - a man who appeared to think he was running against President Obama.  I only hope he's not packing his things for the White House right now....

Dunn asked a simple question and was rebuked by Mike Hubbard for "taking his job too seriously."  Twinkle Cavanaugh became even more unhinged at the prospect of a rate review and raved about liberals, San Francisco lawyers, "enviros," communists, and possibly even organized homosexuals who were conspiring to outlaw coal and plunge us literally into another Dark Age. 

And Alabma voters swallowed that nonsense.

In other good news though, Cullman voters tossed out their incumbent state representative, Mac Buttram, the man who fought hard against the low cost spay/neuter clinics in Alabama and openly wondered whether animal overpopulation wasn't just "some women's issue."

Good riddance, Mr. BUTTram.  Perhaps now, he'll get a lucrative contract from the ASBVME to be a consultant

Did you have any interesting races in your county or legislative district?


Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Alabama Teachers - Back from the Dead?

by: bluebearcat

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 22:40:00 PM CDT

Mac Buttram was absolutely whupped tonight. Over 1,000 vote margin for his opponent Corey Harbison. The GOP and anti-teacher establishment poured well over $400,000 into the race for 4,000 votes. Bob Riley and Mike Hubbard were going door-to-door for Buttram in Cullman this weekend. It did not matter. Teachers stood up.

Do I hate that it was in a Republican primary? Sure, but that's where we are right now. Tonight and what happened in Mississippi prove that, even in the South, the traditional pillars of the Democratic base can make a difference. Look at what happened in AL-6. I told my GOP friends immediately after the Cochran win that DeMarco needed to start trying to win crossover votes from Democrats. I said he should show that he actually cared about black votes because there are many in his district who are, at the moment, left with no one to vote for. Of course, I was ignored and now Alabama has traded seniority and pork for a true tea party believer.

In the places where Republicans are willing to stand up and go after Dem votes, I am beginning to see some green shoots in Alabama politics. I am hearing good things about some of the Democratic statewide candidates this fall. We'll see if this continues.



Discuss :: (10 Comments)

Alabama Voters for Responsible Animal Legislation Releases Primary Endorsements

by: countrycat

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 09:42:11 AM CDT

AVRAL, a non-partisan grassroots group that supports animal welfare legislation in Alabama released its list of endorsements for today's primary.  They actually sent the email yesterday, but I just found it in my spam folder.

Still, better late than never!

With low voter turnout expected tomorrow, AVRAL voters can make a huge difference.  Every single one of us must head to the voting booth.  Not all districts have run offs, but all of us can vote for John Merrill for Secretary of State. And a significant portion of AVRAL members are in House District 6, where Paul DeMarco is in a close race.  We need to elect DeMarco!  

Grab a pen and paper for the run-off races below.

John Merrill:  Secretary of State

Paul DeMarco:  U.S. House District 6

With regard to state House of Representatives elections, we have a critical race in District 12, which is Cullman County. We strongly endorse Corey Harbison, who is running against incumbent Mac Buttram. Buttram has been dismissive of animal welfare issues in the past and actually voted to close the low-cost spay/neuter clinics in the state. VOTE HARBISON. 

In House District 43 (Jefferson and Shelby counties), Arnold Mooney faces off against Amie Beth Shaver. Shaver is a strong advocate for animals; her daughter even hosts a show about animals online. VOTE SHAVER. 

In House District 72 (Hale, Marengo, Perry ang Bibb counties), we endorse incumbent Ralph A. Howard who is running against Thomas P. Moore. Howard has always voted in favor of AVRAL legislation, so VOTE HOWARD

In Senate District 1 (Colbert and Lauderdale counties), we give Tim Melson the edge over Chris Siebert. VOTE MELSON. 

In Senate District 17 (Blount, Jefferson, and St. Clair counties), we give Brett King a thumbs up against Shay Shellnut. VOTE KING. 

In Senate District 22 (Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe and Washington counties), Greg Albritton faces Harry D'Olive. Albritton has been responsive to AVRAL throughout his campaign and is a solid animal welfare supporter. VOTE ALBRITTON. 

In Senate District 30 (Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes, and Pike counties), we strongly endorse Clyde Chambliss rather than his opponent, Harris Garner. VOTE CHAMBLISS. 

Lawrence County has two important run offs for county commissioner. In District 1, Mose Jones faces Jessie Byrd. Jones is a very strong animal advocate, so VOTE JONES. In District 2, Jeff Byars is running against Prentiss Davis. Of the two, Byars is clearly supportive of animal welfare, so VOTE BYARS

Remember that Alabama's animals are counting on you to be their voice on tomorrow. They don't vote, but we do. And with a low turnout expected, your vote is absolutely vital. It's a great chance for us to elect animal-friendly politicians. 

AVRAL members can swing elections in favor of better animal welfare policies and laws in Alabama, but only if you get out and vote! 

Head to the voting booth tomorrow, 

Dr. Rhonda Parker, state chair, AVRAL 


Discuss :: (0 Comments)
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