Alabama can’t keep ‘kicking the dead horse’

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, March 14, 2013

If the horse you’re riding dies, what do you do?

That was the question Dr. Marquita Davis posed to the business and community leaders gathered for the Pike County Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting on Thursday.

Davis, director of finance for the State of Alabama, was explaining the state’s fiscal challenges – including the challenges of operating with two budgets and how those budgets are interconnected – as she reminded the room that these same challenges have faced our state for more than 25 years: a limited general fund budget, ever-increasing demands for state funding, the aversion to raising taxes.

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And instead of kicking that old, dead horse – and hoping it will go – conversations need to shift, she said, to “what now, what next.”

The questions she posed aren’t easy ones. Should the state fund only essential government services? If so, what is considered “essential?” Should non-profit agencies receive state funding? Who should decide which, if any, receive that funding?

What, if any, new sources of revenue can we consider as a state?

No easy answers here, but we agree with Dr. Davis that the questions must be asked – and answered.

Dr. Davis challenged us to speak up and ask the questions – to join the conversations – and to talk to our elected officials in Montgomery about them.

We couldn’t agree more.

We’ve kicked the dead horse for far too long in Alabama, avoiding the difficult decisions that we must make in order to right our state and put us on solid fiscal ground.