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Alabama's incarceration rate one of nation's five highest, up 349% since 1978
Alabama has one of the nation's highest incarceration rates, and the costs of decades of explosive growth in the state's prison population are increasingly consuming funds that could support health care and other important services, according to a new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonprofit research group in Washington, D.C.
Alabama is one of five states with more than 600 people in prison per every 100,000 residents, the CBPP study finds. The state's incarceration rate has jumped by 349 percent since 1978. ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister urged state officials to support safe, sensible reforms of Alabama's sentencing and parole policies to reverse that growth and to invest the savings in Medicaid, child care and other services that help low-income families improve their lives and escape poverty.
"Stronger support for health care, mental health care and substance abuse treatment can build stronger communities, cut costs and reduce crime in our state," Forrister said. "Alabama should invest in our people now so we can enjoy a brighter future tomorrow."
The State of Working Alabama 2014: The growing divide: Alabama's income gap is approaching Gilded Age levels
When the income gap between the rich and everyone else gets too large, the resulting inequality can threaten America’s foundations of fairness, equality and opportunity. Income inequality is deep in Alabama, and it has been getting even deeper in recent decades. Between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent of Alabamians saw their incomes grow by nearly 159 percent. But for everyone else in the state, the average income growth in that time was just 20.5 percent.
Policy analyst Carol Gundlach's new report, part of ACPP's State of Working Alabama 2014 series, examines the growing income gap between the richest Alabamians and everyone else and considers the gap's implications for the state's economy and our children's future. The report also considers how Medicaid expansion, investments in education and infrastructure, and other public policies could mitigate the worst effects of income inequality and promote broadly shared prosperity for all Alabamians.
Alabama’s K-12 funding cuts since 2008 are nation’s second deepest
Only one state has cut K-12 education funding more deeply than Alabama since the Great Recession began, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonprofit research organization in Washington, D.C. On a per-pupil basis, Alabama led the nation in cuts.
The cuts have slowed Alabama’s economic recovery and could hurt the state’s future economic growth, ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said. “Alabama needs good schools and an educated workforce to compete in a global economy,” Forrister said. “Education opens the doors of opportunity for everyone, and we only hurt ourselves when we undermine it.”
Medicaid expansion, payday lending reform among Arise's 2015 issue priorities
Medicaid expansion, payday and auto title lending reform, and low-income housing will be among the goals on ACPP’s 2015 legislative agenda. ACPP and Alabama Arise members selected the groups’ issue priorities at their annual meeting Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in Montgomery. Other issue priorities include tax reform, public transportation, repeal of the Alabama Accountability Act, and an end to the state's lifetime SNAP eligibility ban for people with a past felony drug conviction.
"This is our blueprint for a better Alabama," ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said. "Our members see in their communities that too many families struggle to afford basics like food, health care, housing and transportation. These proposals would help hard-working Alabamians meet their needs and build a better life for their children."
New local health insurance data will help efforts to get more Alabamians covered
ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released data showing the number of Alabamians in each ZIP code who signed up for insurance coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace through April 19, 2014:
“We’re eager to see data showing which parts of Alabama saw the most residents sign up for Marketplace health coverage this year. These figures will be a great tool to help advocates know where to concentrate their efforts as they work in the coming months to help more Alabamians sign up for coverage in 2015.
“Thanks to the hard work of numerous health advocacy groups and trained volunteers, nearly 100,000 Alabamians signed up for Marketplace coverage. That easily topped the state’s goal for this year, and it’s a huge success story for the Affordable Care Act. These numbers will make it easier to identify coverage gaps and build on the success of this year’s enrollment drive in 2015.”
Child poverty remains disturbingly high in Alabama, new Census data show
New Census Bureau data showing that more than one in four Alabama children lived in poverty in 2013 underscores the need for Alabama to do more to help families get ahead and to help children get a good start in life, ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. The state’s disturbingly high child poverty rate – 27 percent, or 3 percentage points higher than it was in 2007 – shows that many families still have not recovered from the Great Recession.
"If we want Alabama to be a better place to live and work, we must invest in our people and our communities," Forrister said. "Making it easier for people to move up the economic ladder not only helps struggling families, but it also makes the economy stronger for all of us."