DSC_0357Budgetary issues continue to demand the attention of Alabama’s state government; you don’t have to look any further than the pages of nearly every newspaper in the state to know that fear sells newspapers and protects political turf. They have been littered with warnings of the impending “draconian” cuts, and the numbers of Alabamians who will surely have to do without vital government services under proposed state budgets.

Governments generally refuse to voluntarily shrink themselves.  To avoid revenue shortfalls, Congress votes to raise the debt ceiling so that the federal government can borrow more money from the Federal Reserve or foreign nations such as China. States, including Alabama, do not have this option.  Since the fiscal pains of the Great Recession began, Alabama’s lawmakers have been depending on bond sales, federal stimulus money, and oil royalties to suture the ever-widening gap between the state’s revenues and expenditures.

Now it’s 2012, and these additional sources of revenue have dried up or are insufficient to meet the demands created by state spending.  Feeling the pressure of his pledge not to increase Alabamians’ tax burden, Governor Bentley asked every state agency, including Medicaid, the Department of Human Resources, and the Department of Mental Health to show him what a 25% across-the-board cut would look like in their agency.

Keep in mind that Governor Bentley was not ordering a 25% cut; he simply issued a request for feedback from state agency directors on what, if anything, their agencies could possibly cut as a way to reduce the burden on taxpayers. What he got in response was an indignant display of bad faith. Instead of respectfully and thoughtfully responding to Governor Bentley’s request, many agencies went to the press with how catastrophic such cuts would be to their budget. Instead of researching to find reasonable cuts in administrative or other operating costs, they all proposed doomsday scenarios: no more Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF), no more support for children, less help for the mentally ill, and Medicaid slashed to the bone.

The outraged and response of these state agencies not only undermined Governor Bentley’s intentions, it also falls flat with Alabama taxpayers who have had to trim their family budgets to make ends meet.

Alabama has a rare opportunity to significantly improve the efficiency and fiscal responsibility of state government during these lean economic times. No one disagrees with the fact that compared to previous years’ budgets every state agency is facing budget shortfalls that will limit the services state agencies can provide. But, we should not let fear-mongering and turf protection by bureaucrats scare us away from making true, productive, and needed reductions in government that result in better stewardship of Alabama taxpayers’ dollars and more efficient provision of services.

Despite the cuts that have already been made and are being felt by some citizens, Alabama is far from a paragon of responsible and efficient government. Analysis of various agencies has found opportunities for other savings through reforms as basic as payroll and timekeeping system changes. Additionally, consolidating state programs to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs without compromising productivity and raising revenue through the sale of capital assets owned by state agencies produce further savings.

In 2010, Alabamians elected an overwhelmingly conservative Legislature, which ran on a platform of reducing the size and scope of government. Let’s hold them to their promises by requiring that, before a budget for fiscal year 2013 is passed and signed, it includes the fiscal restraint our elected officials promised the people of Alabama.


MORE ON API Blog

A Guide to Fake News

More than once every day. That’s how often President Trump publicly calls something “fake”—be it a story, poll, or news organization. Just this week, Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress about, among other things, the proliferation of falsities on his social media platform, including in Alabama’s special election for U.S. Senate last year. We see the […]

Taylor’s Top Eight: End-of-Session Edition

It’s been just over a week since the 2018 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature came to an end. After marinating on this year’s 26 legislative days, here are my takeaways in the final legislative review for 2018. There were a few pieces of legislation for which our legislators deserve a round of applause. 1. […]

How Christ’s Resurrection Makes Politics Better

“He is not here; He has risen!” These are perhaps the most consequential words ever spoken. A man who three days earlier had been violently beaten, hung upon a cross, and buried lifeless in a tomb, is alive again! The reality behind these words—a risen Savior who had borne the sins of the world—prompted the […]

MORE ON Fiscal Policy

Tax Incentives: Not Always the Answer for Alabama’s Economic Struggles

Last month, the state rejoiced with news that Alabama would be the home of a new Toyota-Mazda plant. The plant is expected to bring over 4,000 jobs and billions of dollars in net revenue to the state. With the execution of this deal, known as Project New World, state and local governments will give the […]

API Joins 36 Conservative Groups and Activists: Congress Must Stop New Obamacare Taxes

Lawmakers must act to prevent Obamacare taxes from going into effect next year, 36 conservative groups and activists wrote in a letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Absent Congressional action, the Obamacare health insurance tax and medical device tax will both go into effect in 2018. […]

MORE FROM Elizabeth Robinson

Public School Choice: A Personal Story

Alabama is a beautiful state with many attractions, both in its natural beauty and in the slower pace of living our hospitable people prefer. While our drawls and small towns are a quaint reminder of our heritage, the refusal of state  policymakers to implement the educational reforms necessary to make our schools more successful and […]

Business Owners Denied First Amendment Protections

On November 19th, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ruled that Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts chain, and other for-profit companies must pay for the coverage of contraceptives such as birth control, the “morning-after pill” and the “week-after pill,” regardless of the religious convictions of the owners. In his ruling denying an injunction on certain […]

Diverse pro-life groups present loving choices for mothers and unborn babies

One of the oft-chanted maxims of the pro-choice movement is “Keep your hands off my body.” And it is a mantra that has never settled with me.  While I can certainly understand wanting to keep a stranger’s hands away, I have always wondered why those advocating for abortion never allowed the unborn child to voice […]