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Newton ‘shocked’ by national events

Rep. Charles Newton said that the nation had a lot of “challenges” in front of it, but he was optimistic that solutions would be found somewhere.

Newton was the guest speaker at Monday’s Luverne Rotary Club luncheon.

“I’m concerned about our country going deeper into debt,” Newton said. “There are a lot of things going on around the country right now that shock even me.”

Newton said that the revenues coming into the state of Alabama right now are down. Last year’s education budget, the largest in the state, was $6.7 billion, and this year’s was $5.7 billion—and that included the Rainy Day Fund that Governor Bob Riley had set aside to keep the state out of proration.

“Our general fund budget was $2 billion last year, and this year it was $1.5 billion,” Newton said. “As of Oct. 1 of this year, that budget is scheduled as the same, but the big difference is we had federal stimulus monies helping us this year—in Jan. 2010, we won’t have that federal stimulus money.”

Newton said that even with things not looking good right now, he did not anticipate any new taxes.

“But there will probably be some cuts in places,” he said.

When it came to healthcare reform, the hotly debated topic across the nation today, Newton said he didn’t have the answer to that.

“For example, much of the money for healthcare goes to Medicaid,” he said. “I don’t know the answer to fixing that—three out of four patients in nursing homes today are funded through Medicaid.”

“We just have a lot of challenges in front of us,” he said.