Representatives should choose people over partyPublished 7:59am Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Throughout this Legislative session, the Republican Party has waged a war on the people of Alabama.
It began with attacks on teachers and public schools. Next the Republicans went after police, firefighters, and state employees – cutting their pay and benefits, and attempting to take over their retirement programs. The Republicans mismanaged the PACT program, and broke the state’s promise to the PACT families.
The Republicans passed legislation attacking the rights of working Alabamians to organize. A GOP legislator even introduced a bill to change the Alabama constitution that would allow politicians to raid the Education Trust Fund by un-earmarking state taxes. The constitution directs every penny of state income taxes to the classroom.
But this week, the Republicans turned their sights on the senior citizens and children. The Republicans cut $30 million dollars from the state Medicaid program, leaving thousands of Alabamians without access to healthcare.
Over a million Alabamians are eligible for Medicaid. That’s one in every five people, and nearly one in four children. These are the people they are leaving behind. The Republican budget punishes kids and senior citizens, but gives prisoners free health care. What is more unfair than that?
Democrats believe we need to pass budgets that protect Medicaid and Medicare. We want to close the tax loopholes that are exploited by companies like Exxon Mobile. We want to protect schools and working Alabamians. These are the choices we have made.
Republicans have also made choices –the wrong ones. The Republicans have chosen to protect tax breaks for huge corporations and big businesses. The Republicans chose to protect the big universities over the PACT families. Now the Republicans are choosing to abandon the elderly and the ill.
Over the past two weeks, though, we have started to see changes. The political tides are turning. The voters are seeing that Republicans don’t share their values and do not have the people’s best interest at heart.
In western New York, Democrats just won a special election in a district that has not voted for a Democrat in decades. In fact, New York’s twenty-sixth district is so Republican that it has only elected three Democrats since 1857.
Last week in Dekalb County, Democrat Jerome Tinker defeated his Republican opponent in a local county commission race. Democrats were heavily outspent, and campaigning in a district that has not elected a Democrat since the county commission was formed in 1994. But Democrats won the district, and now have a majority on the county commission.
This week Representative Daniel Boman of Sulligent announced that he is switching to the Democratic Party and will caucus with the House Democrats. Boman represents House District 16, which includes Fayette, Lamar and Tuscaloosa counties. At his Statehouse press conference, Boman said that he felt it necessary to pursue a different avenue in the Legislature to protect the needs of his constituents.
In explaining his reasons for switching parties, Boman said, “During this current session I have seen this Legislative body pass bills that I feel adversely affect what my people back home want, need, and deserve. I will never choose the Party over the people again.”
Based on what has happened in the past few weeks, many people agree with Boman: it’s about people, not parties.
Johnny Mack Morrow is a state representative for Franklin County. His column appears each Wednesday.