We need smarter government in Alabama
Published 11:27 pm Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Thanks goes to state Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman, who was the first lawmaker to file a bill ahead of the 2016 session of the Legislature.
Bussman’s bill would add more state oversight over at the Department of Human Resources at county offices.
While this proposal deserves full consideration, Bussman’s most meaningful accomplishment at this stage is to remind us that the state Legislature’s next session is less than four months away.
Unless we want a repeat of the previous session’s debacle, now is the time to start planning for 2016. In other words, Montgomery needs to take steps to avoid the 2015 budget process, one that required one constitutionally mandated session and two special sessions to pass a General Fund. All that wasted time, money and effort to produce a budget that modestly raised taxes on tobacco and eliminated meaningful state services.
Face it, we are not getting our money’s worth from our elected officials. In fact, the special sessions merely added more debt on a shortfall that was already a quarter-billion dollars in the hole.
Gov. Robert Bentley and our legislators can do better. They must do better.
A smarter state government would look at what its residents need, tally the costs and raise the required revenue.
A smarter state government would recognize that closing state parks and driver’s license offices merely makes a bad situation worse, especially for economic developers and tourism officials trying to sell Alabama as an attractive and well-run state.
A smarter state government would do the math on what Alabama receives and what it loses from having one of the lowest tax burdens in the country. (Hint: The state rankings on a variety of subjects finding Alabama at or near the bottom is a good place to start.)
A smarter state government would realize that in a globalized economy, the details matter. The way to stop looking like a dysfunctional state that can’t look after the basics is to stop acting like a dysfunctional state that can’t look after the basics. (Another hint, lawmakers: Standing behind a House Speaker currently under criminal indictment looks bad, real bad.)
Most importantly, a smarter state government doesn’t bog down over pointless arguments seeking to deny reality. That reality is that the state is out of money and deeper cuts will make things worse.
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