Lawmakers must resolve budget deficit issues

Published 11:00 pm Friday, September 21, 2012

Three years.

That’s how long our state lawmakers have to resolve the financial debacle that faces Alabama.

Thanks to a statewide referendum passed this week, lawmakers will be able to dip into the oil and gas fund reserves for the next three years to pay more than $146 million annually in budget deficits.

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It’s is, by all accounts, a stop-gap measure that only delays the financial day of reckoning that needs to come. For too many years, Alabama has operated without fiscal constraint. And even though Gov. Robert Bentley has pledged to trim $1 billion from state budgets by the time he leaves office, he’s not getting much support from the lawmakers who are loathe to cut programs or add taxes.

But even the voters who approved the referendum this week – many with more than twinge of remorse – know that day of reckoning must come.

Our lawmakers must step up to the table, tighten our collective belts and make the difficult decisions. Cuts must be made – across the board. And, as much as we dislike the idea, additional taxes may have to be considered.

Ultimately, we suspect it will require the push of the voters and taxpayers to force the lawmakers to deal with the unpleasantries at hand and resolve the budget deficits before this trust fund gravy train runs out.

Will we be up to the challenge?