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Governor Bobby Jindal has worked tirelessly
to cut taxes for the rich while gutting the state's safety net provisions. Jindal's refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act will leave 456,000 low-income people without insurance, according to the Atlantic.
In his State of the Union address, Governor Robert Bentley addressed Alabama's alarming poverty rates: "Everyone in this room knows Alabama is one of the poorest states in America, where 1-in-4 children live in poverty. Nearly one million of our fellow Alabamians are dependent on food stamps."
Alabama is the 6th poorest state and has a 27.5% rate of child poverty. Where did the Governor lay the blame for this state of affairs? On programs that have been proven to help the poor
, calling them a “spider’s web of dependency.”
As Kimble Forrister of Alabama Arise points out,
many Alabamians mired in poverty actually have jobs, those jobs just don't pay enough.
Poverty in Alabama, for most families, is a story of people who already have jobs. It's a story of many small businesses and even some giant corporations that limit workers to 29 hours a week to avoid paying benefits. It's a story of young workers with low starting salaries, or unskilled workers who don't make enough to pay their bills.
Though most of Alabama's state "poverty dollars" go to children or senior citizens who can't work, the next largest amount goes to workers who cannot survive on their paychecks alone. They are able to participate in the economy because their wages are supplemented by food assistance, child care and health coverage for their children.
Like some of his gubernatorial counterparts, Bentley also decided not to extend Medicaid benefits under the ACA for Alabama residents. Kentucky is the only Southern state to expand Medicaid.