Spending less money a better way out than replacing what’s lost

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 21, 1999

According to Gov. Don Siegelman, babies will face starvation, orphans will be homeless, prisoners will be on the streets and the elderly will be denied health care unless the legislature approves his solution to the loss of $120 million in taxes lost due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

There is no way to quantify or qualify the loss of the funds that are distributed among a host of agencies in state government. Many of the programs Siegelman points to are run by the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

Here in Pike County, we are looking at the loss of 46 childcare slots, no doubt about it. But there doesn’t appear to be anyone who can say exactly what all the repercussions of the loss of the funds will be because there are so many places the money goes.

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Some goes to county government, some to schools and city government. Some goes to the Department of Human Resources and some goes into the state’s general fund.

When the state looks at cuts, how can it tell which programs will have to go. For that matter, how can Siegelman tell which ones will go without the consent of the Alabama Legislature.

Quite simply, he can’t.

The governor is a master politician, but the shine and polish that adorn him often cloak his common sense and sometimes it seems as if he feels that same polish will blind the public.

We will have to make cuts should we lose the franchise tax, but we believe that many of the services our government offers are sheer hogwash.

A simple way to put it is would you agree to save your favorite state program if you knew letting it go would result in your never having to pay a dime of taxes to the state again?

Maybe the program would be worth saving. But at least we could all sit down and agree on the services that are indispensable versus those that are redundant or unnecessary. That way we could save some essential functions of government and feel less of a financial burden on ourselves and our families. After all, we wouldn’t have to subsidize programs that are senseless.

Here in Pike County, the loss of franchise tax dollars will be felt by many people. Some cannot afford to lose benefits.

Still there are others that could. And it’s time that we decided what the role of government is.

This is something that Siegelman has struggled with. He believes in a stronger sense of social democracy, where social programs benefit many and are paid for through the earnings of hundreds of thousands of hard-working Alabamians

It’s time we trimmed a little fat off our government, and it’s too bad Siegelman is trying to find ways to raise more money for government to offset the loss of the funds and is not searching for a way to use less of the money.

Let’s find a way to save the best programs and save some money in the process by ridding ourselves of layers of senseless government services.