Governor Robert Bentley, what were you thinking when you thought calling a surprise special session and surprising all the legislators was a good idea? I mean, everyone thought a special session in mid-August was the plan. Some legislators were at conferences and some were on vacations, and pissing of those legislators to hear about a special session call at the end of the week for next Monday was a brilliant idea, yeah right! Governor Bentley got some egg on his face, because the legislators came in, met for under 30 minutes, and left to come back on August 3rd.
I mean, who on your staff thought calling a surprise mid-July special session was going to work? The legislators were not ready to fix the general fund crisis! They say they were still working on some ideas to fix the problems. So forcing the legislators to come back with no plan was going to be a HUGE waste of money for us the taxpayers. They did the right thing to temporary end the session and come back in early August. Now, will the legislators have a plan to fix the general fund crisis when they come back in early August? That is the million dollar question!
There are some plans already floating around, but some of these plans will probably make the state in worse shape than it already is. The biggest plan floating around from Sen. Del Marsh is to allow the people of Alabama to vote on allowing a lottery and gambling sites across the state. The plan would allow Alabama to start a lottery which is already going in Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. Admit it, every time the Mega Millions or Powerball jackpot goes sky high, many people from all across Alabama will drive to the nearest state border to get a lottery ticket. I mean, it’s worth spending $2 for a chance to win a lot of money, and even if you don’t win, you know the funds are going to education in the neighboring states.
Marsh would set up a seven person gaming commission and the state would allow full style Vegas style gambling at certain sites like the Poarch Creek Indians casinos and the dog tracks across the state like Greenetrack and Victoryland. Here is the problem, Governor Bentley did not put a call in the proclamation for any gambling, but that does not stop the legislature! If 2/3rds of the legislators votes for it, a bill to allow the people of Alabama to vote on gambling and a lottery can be put in! Here is my opinion about this; there have been many polls done saying that people would rather allow a lottery and gambling than raising taxes. I mean, some people are against gambling because of “moral issues.” I think it’s time to get the moral issues thing past us, and it’s time to allow the people of Alabama to vote on gambling and a lottery.
People would not be forced to gamble or buy a lottery ticket. And for places like Birmingham, a good casino could bring in good shows, major conventions, and help make downtown Birmingham an even better destination than it’s now. Allowing gambling would create a lot of new jobs, and it would bring in a lot of new revenue to help solve the general fund crisis. So, why not legislators allow us to vote on this? Are you afraid that your “moral issues” have a bigger ego inside you? Seriously, it’s time for the “moral issue” argument to end, and allow a lottery and gambling in Alabama, it’s already happening! And it would make Alabama a better destination instead of driving through the state to go to Mississippi. At least Sen. Del Marsh is trying to solve this problem!
Now, who in the world thinks that the tax increases from Governor Bentley will even be considered in this special session? Some of tax increases being proposed include a tax increase on tobacco products, withholding a tax exemption for employers, amending the individual income tax deduction for taxes paid, amending the business privilege tax, and even imposing a tax on certain beverages and beverage products, including soft drinks and soft drink products. For starters, who would vote on another tax increase on tobacco products? And as for the tax increases on soda pop, the only way I support a tax increase on soft drinks is what they do in other states like Michigan, where they add a 10 cent fee to cans and bottles, and you get your money back when you redeem the cans and bottles at the stores. That way, the sides of the road can be a whole lot cleaner! And for people who do not redeem the fee, the money can go towards the general fund crisis.
And one other thing in the special session proclamation is to create an authority for financing improvements at the Gulf State Park and to authorize the Authority to issue bonds not to exceed fifty million dollars ($50,000,000) for the Gulf State Park Project. This is the stupidest thing in the whole special session proclamation! The state of Alabama is super broke, and who in the right mind wants to allow the state to borrow $50 million dollars to build a playground for the super rich on the gulf coast? If the state was in much better financial shape, this would not be a problem, but right now this should be avoided and the bill should be put through the shredder and burned on a wood pile, that’s how bad it is!
So let’s talk one other thing that is being floated around. Cullman has made the news in the past few weeks. For one, an attorney from there is suing the state to order the confederate flag to be raised again in the capital. Hey, if South Carolina can remove the flag from government grounds, and if Mississippi is moving to remove the flag from their state flag, let’s have Alabama move backwards again and re-install the confederate flag, and let’s slow down and stop economic growth, and have everyone around the world laugh at us and avoid us! Do us a favor, stop this lawsuit and keep the confederate flag off of public government grounds!
Now, that attorney from Cullman is not the only one who wants to take the state backwards over the confederate flag. Sen. Paul Bussman, who not only has opposed the low cost spay and neuter clinics, and wants them shut down to keep the greedy vets operating, now also wants to combine the general fund and education fund budgets, removing all earmarks that determine how revenues must be spent and capping spending on Medicaid and prisons. Nice going Sen. Bussman, not only you want to make animals suffer, you also want to make the children suffer as well because you want to shift money from schools and send it to prisons. You also want the poor to suffer by capping Medicaid, I guess if you are a child, animal, or poor in Alabama, screw you!
Even if this proposal does pass the legislature, thankfully the people of Alabama have to vote on this in an election because this is a constitutional amendment. And who in the right mind would vote yes to take money from schools and send it to prisons? I don’t think many would! Here is something else you need to consider! Most of the earmarked funds goes to education, mental health, and human resources. I guess some people don’t care about the mentally ill, mentally disabled, people who needs food stamps, kids who needs help, or kids who should get a good education. And another thing, capping prison funding would result in the feds coming in and taking over the prison system, I guess that might be the only solution to this problem. And if that happens, the state will have no choice but to raise some taxes, no matter if you like it or not.
At the end of the day, I don’t see the possibility of combining the budgets passing in the upcoming special session. I also see any tax increase not even being considered as well. So there are few options left. Yes, passing a lottery and gambling won’t solve the issues for the upcoming budget year, but it will help for the next budget year! Yes, you can move some funds from the education budget over, but it won’t solve all the problems. So, I guess we are about to see a lot of chaos in Alabama!
Who cares about the state parks, who cares about the state troopers, who cares about human resources, who cares about Medicaid, who cares about the prisons, and who cares about the state agencies. I guess we are about to enter a time where the state parks are closed, poor people can’t get the help they need, people who break down are left stranded, and if you are a child, animal, or poor in Alabama, screw you! Screw you for living in Alabama, the well off would rather see you suffer or leave this state behind. It’s almost like Nazi Germany; only instead they killed and burned the poor and people who were suffering. Alabama can be better than this!