Legislative Roundup 2013: Week 1


Geek Alabama Legislative

Legislative Roundup is back for 2013!  Each week during the 2013 Alabama Legislative session; I will be talking about some of the issues that is being brought up.  For week one, I wanted to talk about the State of the State address that was delivered by Governor Bentley on Tuesday night.

I liked how Governor Bentley opened talking about the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement.  But the good news changed quickly.  The Governor said that unemployment is down.  And 26,000 new and future jobs have been recruited to Alabama in the last two years.  More than $6 billion dollars was invested in Alabama in 2012.  Companies such as Airbus and the Wrangler plant in Hackleburg was talked about as investment in Alabama.  He even talked about how Alabama workers are highly respected throughout the world.  I would say these are good things but for people like me; where are the jobs?

Then the governor talked about improving roads and bridges through the ATRIP program.  Over $614 million in road projects have been approved.  Six counties do not participate in the ATRIP program and he wants that to change. Using borrowed money to pay for roads is not a smart thing!  Then the governor talked about education.  He said the state has launched a statewide effort to bring education and the workforce together.  The College and Career Ready Taskforce was launched to make sure the students have the tools they need to compete in high-skill industries.  The governor wants high school and college students to have the skills necessary to compete in the workforce.  The governor wants Alabama to have a workforce that is second to none.  Again; where are the jobs since I have been unemployed for 19 months!

Bentley talked about the Amendment 2 vote which was to borrow money to recruit new industries and to pay for Medicaid.   Alabama consistency ranked in the top 10 friendly business environment and works as a team approach to recruit and retain businesses.  Alabama’s economy had dramatic improvements in the last three months of 2012.  When factors such as; total jobs, total unemployment, total wages, hours worked in manufacturing are combined.  Only 4 states saw higher growth than Alabama in 2012.  Again; I will believe this when I can find a job!

Sure; the governor wants Alabama to be number one. (without Roll Tide or War Eagle)  He talked about the low cost of energy because of natural resources such as coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, and hydroelectric power.  The governor will not allow the federal government or anyone else to stand in the way in the use of those natural resources.  Bentley compared Alabama’s budget to the feds.  He wants Washington to balance the budget!  While the feds are in debt over $17 trillion; Alabama has identified over $750 million in savings for Alabama taxpayers in just two years.  The governor wants $1 billion in taxpayer savings by the end of 2014.  And he wants the Alabama government to be rightsized.  Again; all while laying off people and making them suffer.

Alabama has laid off 4,000 employees to rightsize government.  And the government is running as efficiently as possible without raising taxes.  Both budgets are better than in 2012.  The governor wants the $437 million transferred from the Alabama Trust Fund to be payed back and the governor wants the repayment to be the first bill from the legislature.  Sadly; the governor then started to talk about social issues.  He talked about the constitution of America and Alabama; especially the second amendment.  The governor has the belief that people in America has the right to keep and bear arms.  He also talked about the tenth amendment and he said “the states created the Federal Government, not the other way around.” This earned a very long applause from the audience.  Here is my post about the NRA / gun control debate.  I encourage you to read it!

http://geekalabama.com/2012/12/21/the-nra-gun-control-debate/

Then he talked about the unborn; why Governor Bentley; why?  He wants to do everything to protect those who can not protect themselves and to protect freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.  He said “everyone is endowed with a right to a life.”  Should the governor and the legislature be worrying about jobs and the economy instead of social issues?  Back to education; he wants Alabama to continue funding the reading, distance learning, AMSTI, and advanced placement initiatives.  Alabama Pre-K is ranked number one in the nation but ranked number 33 for Pre-K access.  He wants the legislature to increase the access of voluntary Pre-K programs.  And the governor wants Alabama to close the achievement gap.  Where is the money for this?  I also want you to read my post about the war on women.

http://geekalabama.com/2012/03/27/the-war-on-women/

Bentley also wants to turnaround failing schools and allow the State Department of Education to fix failing schools.  He wants to give school districts flexibility without infringing the rights of schoolroom teachers.  The governor wants to give teachers and support personnel a 2 1/2% payraise to thank them for their service.  He also wants to give more frequent raises as the economy gets better.  Since the taxes in Alabama are so flawed, I do not expect to see any payraises.  He also wants to protect school personnel by forming a task force to look at ideas.  A toll free number is now posted at the governor’s website to allow people to report a threat anonymously.

After talking about accomplishments such as better services to care for the elderly, installing safe rooms, talking about the low infant mortality and teen birth rate, developing programs for students with disabilities so they can gain workforce training, record amount of children adopted from foster homes, and military service from the Alabama National Guard.   He then commended the people in Alabama like the people who helped in the Midland City, AL hostage crisis.

The final words from Governor Bentley: “Fifty years ago, the eyes of the world were on Alabama.  Today, let’s invite the world to look to Alabama again.  And let’s show them a state that works together, one that innovates and creates economic opportunity for all its citizens, regardless of color, regardless of gender, and regardless of politics.  A place we can all call Sweet Home Alabama.

God Bless you all.  And God Bless The Great State of Alabama.”

So here’s my thoughts.  Why can’t the Alabama Legislature do good things for the state of Alabama?  We need to quit worrying about things like state’s rights and start worrying on things like helping the poorer people.  Alabama needs to start a lottery, abolish the sales taxes on food, and restructure its taxes so the poor are not taxed more than the rich.  Also, there was no mention of Medicaid during the speech.  Alabama Medicaid is in big trouble and there was nothing mentioned to help save it.  Oh well; the Alabama Legislature will be busy worrying about social issues instead of the real issues.

I will be having fun talking about the Alabama Legislature in 2013!

 

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