Reed gives legislative update to city council
by Daniel Gaddy
Jul 13, 2012 | 905 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper) recently updated the Jasper City Council concerning laws passed in 2012’s legislative session and how they will affect the area.

A major concern for Jasper and Alabama, Reed said, will be a Sept. 18 referendum in which voters will decide whether or not to balance the general fund budget by pulling $145 million out of a $2.4 billion trust fund.

“This vote is basically a solution to what are horrific losses in tax revenues in the Alabama General Fund,” Reed told the council.

The account, which lawmakers hope to borrow from called the Alabama Trust Fund, is stocked by royalty payments from oil and gas companies.

He said that if voters do not approve the measure to transfer funds from the account, state lawmakers will have to either raise taxes or make large, across-the-board cuts.

Gov. Robert Bentley in June said the cuts could be as high as 17 percent.

Reed told the Jasper Council during its Tuesday meeting that such cuts will hit two areas particularly hard: the state’s prison system and Alabama Medicaid.

He added that the reduction in Medicaid funding will come with another hit because Alabama receives between $2.50 to $3 in federal matching funds for every dollar spent on Medicaid. If state leaders make a 17 percent cut, Alabama Medicaid will lose $500 to $600 million in combined state and federal funding.

Reed said talk of the cuts also comes at a time when Alabama legislators have cut more than $400 million from the agency in the last four years, and as state leaders consider whether they should opt-out of an expansion of Medicaid called for in the Affordable Care Act.

“Health care in America, health care in Alabama and health care in the City of Jasper is a paramount issue when it comes to how government is going to manage the Affordable Care Act and all the aspects of that law,” he said.

In regard to the state’s prison system, Reed said across-the-board cuts could mean as many as 17,000 released inmates.

Reed also mentioned the following:

•He received a commitment from Department of Transportation officials for a $1 million project to install lighting at Exit 65 of Interstate 22, which feeds into Industrial Boulevard. Reed said the project will help attract more businesses near the exit. It should be complete by next summer.

•The Alabama Legislature passed a bill sponsored by Reed and carried by Rep. Bill Roberts in the House that included the coal industry in tax incentives typically used to attract manufacturing companies.

Reed said the law was a direct recruitment tool, which led to Walter Energy choosing northern Tuscaloosa County as a site for a coal mine. He said the operation will employ 500 people with an average salary of $90,000.

•The Alabama Legislature passed a bill Reed sponsored that provided a $300 stipend to teachers for classroom supplies.

•More than 200 municipalities chose to participate in a Severe Weather Tax Holiday this year. The holiday was established from legislation Reed sponsored.

•State lawmakers passed a law Reed sponsored requiring student athletes who suffer a head injury to get permission from a doctor to return to the sport. The legislation aims to tamp down high concussion rates, which have received media attention throughout the nation.