Jones votes against General Fund

Published 12:03 am Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, broke with his party to vote against the House’s $1.39 billion version of the General Fund budget Tuesday night.

The House met late into the night Tuesday before passing the budget that was described as “dire” and that one opponent said would leave lawmakers with “blood on our hands.”

The budget cuts funding to most state agencies by approximately $340 million, a nearly 20 percent decrease.

The single largest element of the General Fund – Medicaid – would see its state funding cut by $175 million, which would also cut federal funding for the program.

“The two groups we have to protect, first and foremost, are those groups of people who are least able to fend for themselves,” Jones said. “I place in the description, the elderly and children, and DHR and Medicaid took some tremendous impact.”

Jones said he also voted against the measure because funding would be cut to Covington County’s state parks such as Florala State Park and Opp’s Frank Jackson State Park.

“I spoke to some of those issues during the night (Tuesday),” he said. “I let everyone know where I stood, and that’s why I voted against it.”

The House finally passed the budget around 9:30 p.m Tuesday.

Most other state agencies will have reductions of 20 percent or more, which will likely lead to layoffs and other cuts in services.

The budget was approved on a 56-47 vote. The split was mostly along party lines with most Republicans voting “yes” and Democrats voting “no.”

Jones was one of 11 Republicans who opposed the budget.

“It now goes to Senate, and I think there are going to be a lot of changes,” Jones said. “And I think the Senate will do a lot of work. I spoke with Sen. (Jimmy) Holley and gave him some insight. Sen. Holley and I work very well together and keep each other informed of what goes on in both the House and the Senate.”