Seniors want share of tobacco dollars

MICHAEL SZNAJDERMAN Birmingham News staff writer April 28, 1999

MONTGOMERY - Hundreds of seniors braved long rides and rain showers Tuesday to demand that lawmakers provide some money from the state's share of tobacco dollars for senior citizen programs.

But Gov. Don Siegelman, noticeably absent from Tuesday's seniors' rally at the Alabama State House, has other ideas for the tobacco money.

"We'll work with them to find the funding that they need," said Siegelman spokeswoman Kristin Carvell.

A bill pending in a legislative committee would set aside $10 million a year over four years for senior centers, meals-on-wheels and other programs for the elderly. The money would go into a trust fund for senior programs.

The same money was briefly attached to a bill that already has passed the House of Representatives. But under the urging of Siegelman aides, the money for seniors was removed before the measure passed the House. That bill divides money from the tobacco settlement among the Children First package of youth programs, Medicaid and a new trust fund to provide money for economic development projects.

Rep. Joe Carothers, D-Dothan, the lead advocate for the seniors money, said he agreed to pull the money from the tobacco bill in exchange for a meeting with Siegelman aides. He said he hoped the session would lead to an agreement with the governor to set aside some additional money for senior programs. But last week's meeting resulted in no deals.

Carothers said he now hopes to secure $3 million a year from the tobacco money over 20 years for seniors. "I think the Legislature will give 'em some," Carothers said.

Sen. Gerald Dial, D-Lineville, said he wants to put the original, $40 million for seniors back into the bill when it comes before the full Senate.

Doris Auton, 74, of Bessemer, was among the seniors who traveled to Montgomery for the rally. She lives and volunteers at the Bessemer Senior Gardens, a housing complex for the elderly.

"A lot of older people don't have enough income," she said. "They need some help."

So agreed Dick Short with the American Association of Retired Persons. "There's a big, big need, and it's underfunded in the state," he said.

Ms. Carvell, with Siegelman's office, noted that the Medicaid money in the tobacco bill helps pay health care costs for seniors. She said the economic development money also could help seniors indirectly by bringing in jobs and boosting state coffers.

She said the top priority with the tobacco bill is making sure money for Children First is protected. "We think the bill is pretty reasonable," she said.

© 1999 The Birmingham News.

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Seniors urge Siegelman and state lawmakers to share tobacco money

MONTGOMERY, April 27, 1999 - MSNBC – Hundreds of senior citizens are urging Governor Siegelman and state lawmakers to cut them in on any tobacco settlement money the state gets.

    

Legislation approved by the House of Representatives and pending in the Senate would provide $85 million a year to programs for problem children and juvenile delinquents. While that is the biggest chunk of the expected tobacco money, several millions of dollars would also be generated for economic development incentives and Medicaid.

    

Dozens of senior citizens groups from around the state traveled to the Statehouse today for an outside rally that got cut short by a thunderstorm.

    

A retired nurse from Bessemer, Bertha   Glover, said she and others who made the trip believe seniors deserve a share of the money as much as children do, and they don’t have as long to get it. Another retiree, Thomas Henderson of Tallassee and his wife, Ruth Henderson, said their senior citizens group needs their van replaced.

    

State Senater Gerald Dial of Lineville says he will attempt to get $10 million of the tobacco money set aside each year in a new trust fund for senior citizens programs. But Dial is going up against the governor and other supporters of the Children First legislation who don’t want to give up any of the tobacco money to seniors’ programs.

© 1999 Associated Press.

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Seniors want a share of tobacco settlement

By BUSTER KANTROW Mobile Register Staff Report April 28, 1999

MONTGOMERY — Pauline Clausell says it's simple: Seniors should get a share of Alabama's tobacco settlement money, just as other groups in the state would.

"Divide it: Give some to the kids, give some to the schools, give some to us," she said. "Give everybody a piece of the pie. It ain't going to be enough to run nothing, but it'll help. Every little bit will help."

Ms. Clausell, 72, was among hundreds of senior citizens who converged on the State House Tuesday to ask legislators to establish a Senior Services Trust Fund with tobacco money. Ms. Clausell said she hopes the fund will help the Monroeville nutrition center where she eats.

But Gov. Don Siegelman already has other plans for the tobacco dollars. House-passed legislation backed by the Democratic governor would give $85 million to Children First programs for problem children and juvenile delinquents. The remaining money would be used for economic-development incentives and Medicaid.

Kristin Carvell, Siegelman's press secretary, said seniors would benefit from the $360 million in tobacco money that Medicaid is expected to receive over the next 20 years. And she said economic-development efforts would lead to new jobs, which would help the General Fund, which supports senior programs.

"The governor has always said that this administration would never turn its back on senior citizens, and it won't," Ms. Carvell said.

But Rep. Joe Carothers, D-Dothan, said the administration is "not supporting them with their pocketbook."

Carothers is cosponsoring a bill that would funnel $10 million per year into the new trust fund. The target may be too high, he said Tuesday, but he expressed hope that legislators would agree to divert $3 million of the tobacco receipts annually for the next 20 years.

"I think the Legislature will give them something, in the final push," said Carothers.

Daisy Duke of Mobile said she expects legislators to respond to Tuesday's showing, even though the demonstration on the State House steps was cut short by rain. The turnout included two busloads of seniors from Mobile and Baldwin counties.

"They know the seniors vote," Ms. Duke said.

© 1999 Mobile Register.