Speak out on budget plans

Published 9:51 pm Thursday, May 19, 2011

Elected officials often face the challenge of answering “what does it mean to me?” when dealing with significant issues such as state budget cuts or tax increases.

This year in Alabama is no exception.

As lawmakers wrangle with the need to cut expenses to equal projected revenues, dozens of state programs and millions of dollars in state funding are in the crosshairs. Proration has targeted teachers adn schools throughout the year, but projected budget cuts now mean the court systems, ad department and more state agencies are feeling the pinch. And their taking their case to the streets.

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There’s no doubt that state funding cuts will be a significant blow to the court system. Justice Sue Bell Cobb warned this week that she will fight to keep the $13.1 million in state funding cuts at bay. Whether she’s effective remains to be seen.

But cuts, while necessary to bring our state spending in line and balance our state budget, also come with a cost –some 254 layoffs in the court system statewide.

Here in Pike County, Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarbrough warns the office may be forced to reduce staffing to four employees and even consider shuttering the office one day each week, to reduce operating expenses. That means taxpayers will likely be inconvenienced, as will judges and law enforcement personnel who use the Circuit Clerk’s office.

We can offer no magic wand to fix our state’s budget woes – if we could, we would wave it over the schools; the jails; the court systems; and dozens of other agencies in need of funding.

We can, however, urge you to contact your state lawmakers: Sen. Bryan Taylor and Rep. Alan Boothe, and let your voice be heard. Tell them your thoughts and opinons on how the state should approach the budget cuts pending in the Legislature and, if five-day-a-week access to your Circuit Clerk’s office is important, let the legislators know.

They need to hear “what it means to me.”