Governor Robert Bentley is showing tremendous courage in proposing $541 million in new revenues for the state of Alabama. The governor’s action is necessary because of the $700 million shortfall in the state’s general fund budget. It’s time for bold leadership in state government and it has to start with the governor of Alabama. For years the state has relied on borrowing and one-time sources of money and federal dollars to plug gaps in the state’s budget. In recent years things have gotten much worse. Gov. Bentley inherited a financial mess when he took office in 2011. The previous administration had borrowed from every possible source and left the state coffers empty. Interestingly, opposition to Gov. Bentley’s proposals appears to be coming from the Republican Party.
For years, politicians have run for governor and other offices promising that no new taxes would be imposed on the people of Alabama. During that same period of time, however, government services, by necessity, have increased. Anybody who has been around state government knows there are obvious problems that must now be dealt with. A prime example is the prison system. The state is on the verge of having the prison system taken over by the federal courts and if that happens it would be financially disastrous for the state. We have let the prison problems go virtually unnoticed for years and we are now facing a real crisis. We can no longer ignore the fact that action must be taken now and without delay.
Not only do we need new revenues, we need a total revision of our state’s tax system. In Alabama we heavily tax folks who can least afford to pay and that must change. A review of our tax structure should be high on the list of priorities for the Governor and Legislature. Reform of the tax code is long overdue. I commend Governor Bentley for taking a bold stand. Hopefully the people of Alabama will support him. I believe that he has the courage required to get the job done.
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