Mobile, AL — WKRG
Alabama lawmakers go back to work tomorrow. Governor Robert Bentley is asking them to approve a lottery to help plug a hole in the state’s Medicaid budget. Another issue on the table is directing millions of dollars in BP settlement money to coastal communities. Previous versions of this bill earmarked money specifically to complete “Bloody 98” in Mobile County and extend the Baldwin Beach Express to I-65 in Baldwin County.
Bills like that died in committee earlier this year. The special session gives lawmakers another crack at it. State senator Bill Hightower believes road projects could jump start the state economy.
“If we added $500 million to roads and bridges we’d generate 16,000 jobs, generate $245 million in tax revenue that’s going to far exceed putting the money in a trust fund which earned zero percent last year,” said Hightower. Instead of a lottery, some of that settlement money could be used to close the Medicaid funding gap this session.
“The BP funds could be used to solve a short term problem with Medicaid, and I think probably it should but it won’t deal with the long term issue at all,” said Hightower. There’s some similar thinking across the political aisle. Hightower’s a Republican and Democratic State Representative Barbara Drummond agrees BP money is just a temporary Medicaid fix.
“It’s not a sustainable source it’s another opportunity to kick the can down the road, we need to look at sustainable solutions to our problems in the state of Alabama,” said Drummond. The BP bill unites southwest Alabama lawmakers who would like to see something earmarked for Mobile and Baldwin counties.
“Because it’s only fair that we get a part of that money because we are the affected areas I think Mobile and Baldwin counties need to be made whole as it relates to BP money,” said Drummond. Drummond said she’d like to see the people vote on a lottery and would push for a plan that sends lotto money to the education fund.