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August 11, 2010

State will get $282 million from jobs legislation

Source:  http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20100811/NEWS02/8110346/State-will-get-282-million-from-jobs-legislation

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama signed an emer­gency aid package into law Tuesday that
includes $282.5 million in federal funding for Alabama that could save about 2,700 education jobs.

Although the jobs bill gives Alabama an unanticipated $149 million boost to rehire support staff for public schools, it does not provide the Medicaid pro­gram with enough money to fully fund medical care for Ala­bama's needy.

Republicans opposed the bill saying it was wasteful.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Saks said he voted against the bill because "east Alabamians tell me they're sick and tired of the tax and spend policies they believe are hurting the private sector and only grow the
reach of the federal government."

He said he's concerned the bill continues the "failed" policy of last year's stimulus bill and does little to
create more private sector jobs.

"Congress should focus on helping the private sector save and create jobs instead of grow­ing the d
ependency of states on the federal government," he said.

But it wasn't just Republican House members from Alabama who opposed it.

Rep. Bobby Bright, D-Mont­gomery, was one of three Demo­crats to vote against the bill, say­ing
it's not "sound public policy."

"While I am greatly con­cerned about the potential job losses and social service cut­backs at the state
level, I am also concerned with the precedent this legislation could set for fu­ture state budgetary
crises," said Bright, former mayor of Montgomery.

"It doesn't make much sense to me for the federal govern­ment to spend money it doesn't have to help
states avoid making tough budgetary decisions."

In fact, only one Alabama representative, lame-duck Dem­ocrat Artur Davis of Birming­ham, supported
it.

Despite the lack of support from Alabama, the measure passed 247-161 in the House early Tuesday.

Lawmakers returned to Washington for a special ses­sion to vote on the package. The Senate passed
the measure 61-39 last week.

Gov. Bob Riley's state fi­nance director, Bill Newton, said the bill will furnish $133 million for Medicaid
-- well short of the $197 million that the governor and budget writers es­timated Alabama would get
for the new state budget taking ef­fect Oct. 1.

The $64 million shortfall will require adjustments to Medi­caid's total spending plan of $5.2 billion, but
it's too early to say what the adjustments will be, Newton said.

The chairman of the Alaba­ma House's budget-writing com­mittee, Rep. John Knight, D-
Montgomery, said legislators will have to review the entire state General Fund budget in light of the
shortfall and look for ways to make the budget bal­ance without cutting Medicaid services.

"As far as I'm concerned, Medicaid will be the priority, as it has always been," he said.