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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New commissioner jokes about Bentley's pay pledge

The new commissioner of Medicaid in Alabama told legislators on Wednesday a key reason they need to get unemployment down to 5 percent.
"If we get below 5 percent, I don't have to buy the governor's lunch any more," said Dr. Bob Mullins.
Gov. Robert Bentley, who appointed Mullins commissioner, vowed during his campaign not to take a salary until Alabama reached full unemployment, which he said most economists believe is about 5.2 percent.
Mullins, whose agency is in a dire budget situation with rising costs and decreasing money for the state to spend, was talking about Medicaid's budget to a joint hearing of the Legislature.
Mullins, who was very serious about the budget situation, also joked in his closing remarks that he wanted Bentley to become accustomed to eating cheap because he was not going to spend $25 to buy the governor's lunch.
"You can't," fired back Rep. Jim Barton, a Mobile Republican who is the new chairman of the House General Fund budget committee. He was referring to the new limits placed on spending on public officials and public employees.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

UPDATE: Mullins was far more serious when asked about why he decided to take the job of Medicaid commissioner during such a difficult time for the state.

In a post-hearing interview with the press, Mullins said when Gov. Robert Bentley approached him to take the job, he said "absolutely not."

"I was planing to practice and die in Valley," said the retired family practice physician who practiced in Valley for more than 37 years.

But Mullins, who teared up a bit as he talked, said that his refusal kept him up for three nights. After talking with his wife and praying about it, he changed his mind.

"I took the job because the governor asked me to take the job," he said.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

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