By State Rep. Craig Ford
After the 2010 elections, there were many who said the Democratic Party was dead in Alabama. But this year, Democrats in the Alabama legislature have proven that we are alive and fighting harder than ever to protect the people of Alabama.
Democrats have stepped up and provided leadership and solutions on a number of crucial issues that are facing our state.
One of the most significant issues facing our state is the budget crisis and the cuts to Medicaid. The only solution the Republican Supermajority could come up with was to cut 30 percent of Medicaid’s budget, even though the Republicans had been told by physicians across the state that cutting that much from Medicaid would endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of Alabama children and elderly patients.
But Democratic leaders in the state House and Senate stepped up and offered a solution that would not only provide the money needed to save the Medicaid program, but do so without raiding the Education Trust Fund and without raising a single tax or fee.
Another critical issue that our state is facing this year fully funding the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (PACT) Program and honoring the state’s commitment to the more than 40,000 Alabama families enrolled in the program.
Democratic leaders in the state House and Senate offered multiple plans that would have fully funded the PACT program and kept the state’s promise to the PACT families. But instead of honoring the state’s commitment, the Republican Supermajority forced a bill through the legislature that would change the law and take out the language requiring the state to honor its obligation to the PACT families in an attempt to back out of the state’s promise.
But perhaps the most significant victory Alabama Democrats have had this year has been killing charter schools.
Charter schools would take money from our already underfunded schools and cost our schools one teacher for every six students who transfer to a charter school.
In states that already have charter schools, many of them have been closed and gone into bankruptcy with the taxpayers being responsible for their debt. But perhaps the biggest reason to oppose charter schools is that charter schools do not perform any better than traditional public schools. In fact, as they are to surpass performance at traditional public schools, charter schools are twice as likely to fail.
Democrats in the legislature have fought charter schools from the beginning. This year, House and Senate Democrats were able to kill the charter school bill, but the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means – Education Committee has already said that the charter school bill will be brought back next year.
The Republican Supermajority in Montgomery has continued to run over Alabama’s working families, elderly, and children. But Alabama Democrats are still fighting (and winning) for the people of Alabama.