Robert Bentley announces plans to veto General Fund budget

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Gov. Robert Bentley has released a statement announcing his plans to veto the recently passed General Fund budget, which fails to adequately fund the state’s Medicaid program.

“The General Fund Budget is unacceptable because it lacks adequate funding for essential government services,” Bentley said in the Thursday statement. “The proposed appropriation falls short of what the Medicaid Agency will require to provide services for the over one million Alabamians, most of them children, covered by Medicaid.”

Bentley also noted that the current budget will render Medicaid reform measures passed in 2013 “unsustainable.”

“The state has already made great progress to remodel and streamline the Medicaid model to a regional managed-care system,” Bentley remarked. “That progress will be lost without adequate funding from the General Fund.”

In the statement, Bentley also mentioned his concerns about funding for the Alabama Department of Corrections, which he says is necessary to “address the prison crisis long-term.”

“We have made strong reforms in the prison system; however, insufficient funding hinders the department’s efforts for further reform,” Bentley said. “We have witnessed the dangerous conditions inside our state-operated prisons, and the Alabama Legislature must prioritize prison system safety with adequate appropriations.”

Bentley further chastised lawmakers for using “millions” in one-time BP settlement money to pay for “recurring expenses,” a move the governor claims is “fiscally irresponsible and shortsighted.”

“Because of these concerns, I will veto the General Fund Budget and send it back to the Legislature on April 5th when they return,” Bentley said in closing. “I am committed to working with the Legislature to address our General Fund budget challenges.”

Unlike other states, which require a two-thirds vote to overturn a veto, Alabama only requires a simple majority in both houses to override the governor’s veto. Because of that, the Republican majority in the state legislature will easily be able to undo Bentley’s action.

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