In outlining his priorities for Alabama, Gov. Robert Bentley (R) vowed to shrink the size of government and oppose tax increases to balance the state’s budget. But to do that, Bentley is asking the federal government to let him lower the number of children who could qualify for ALL Kids, the state’s public health insurance plan for children:
“We don’t have the money,” Bentley said Sunday. [...]
ALL Kids this year covers about 84,000 children and of those, about 15,800 are between 200 percent and 300 percent of poverty. The popular children’s health insurance program is normally a bright spot in terms of Alabama’s ability to provide health insurance to its neediest residents, and the program has been hailed nationally for its success. [...]
Although the federal government picks up 78 percent of the cost of ALL Kids, Bentley said he asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to allow the eligibility change because the state can’t afford its 22 percent share.
The state faces a $400 million deficit, and Williamson said cutting 15,800 children from the program would save the state $8.5 million. But meanwhile, the state House narrowly passed the governor’s economic plan that would increase tax breaks for businesses.
In his State of the State address, Bentley promised to “oppose any effort to raise taxes on Alabama families, and I will veto any tax increase.” Instead, his budget plan would continue the state’s history of corporate tax giveaways. In 2011, state and local tax breaks for the ThyssenKrupp AG steel mill in Mobile, Alabama topped $1 billion for the company to create 2,700 jobs — or $400,000 per job created.
Along with the children who will be left without adequate health care, Alabama will likely eliminate its participation in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program next year because of budget cuts. That will cost the state $141 million in federal funds for Alabama families.