By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—An eleventh hour stand against the September 18 constitutional amendment is being held today on the steps of the Alabama Capital.
“We are oppose to this amendment because it does not address the waste and inefficiency of state government,” says Marcia Chambliss, Alabama Coordinator for Smart Girl Politics. “It gets the legislature through the next three budgets without addressing why we have this budget shortfall.”
Chambliss is joined by leaders who represent various conservative groups from across the state of Alabama. They include Becky Gerritson, President of the Wetumpka TEA Party; Eloise Zeanah, President of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women; and former Alabama State Senator John Rice, from the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government. All of these organizations are coming together under the motto of “Don’t BUST the TRUST.”
Former State Senator John Rice is perhaps the most well-known and has been a constant voices of opposition to the September 18 constitutional amendment. Rice has even filed a lawsuit against the governor sighting the 2013 General Fund Budget as unconstitutional.
“The Alabama voters should be incensed at what has happen,” says Rice. “They passed a budget which is out of balance which no one really knows what is in it but the very few people who crafted it.”
Rice, a conservative republican, lays the blame for the “unconstitutional and illegal budget” at the feet of republican leadership.
Rice says that the budget process should not be left to the last hours of the legislative session and then hurried through the process.
“They need to move the budget process to the start of the legislative session. They need to work on that one thing, until it passes,” says Rice. “The process needs to be transparent.” Rice says he believe that GOP leadership passed a budget that “holds a political gun to the heads of the Alabama voters.”
Rice and Chambliss both take exception with the ATF being called a savings account. “The Alabama Trust Fund was set up as a trust, not as a savings account.” They both point out that it has already been borrowed from once “to the tune of $599 million dollars and that money has not been paid back.”
Rice goes so far as to say, “This is a government that I don’t even recognize,” saying that the people must vote no on the amendment to stop “corrupt republicans.”
Chambliss does not go that far but says she is “disappointed because these are many republicans I worked so hard to elect.”
Chambliss said, “I think what disturbs many conservatives is that these are the same scare tactics we have heard from the left.”
Rice goes further indicating that the PAC, Alabama 2014, is at the root of the problem. “The 2014 fund was established by a group of political insiders to influence the outcome of elections in 2014,” Rice said. “If you look at who has almost been forced to contributing to the 2014 fund through coercion and collusion it becomes clear that the are the same people playing in the budget.”
Rice says that political reporters need to be asking more questions about the Alabama 2014 PAC, “That is what it is all about. It is about people being threatened with the 2014 fund.”
Alabama 2014 is a PAC that is run by former Governor Bob Riley. Recently Riley told news reporters that The PAC had $670,724 on hand as of July 31.
Rice said that he saw what he considered questionable activities during the 2012 legislative session leading up to the budget vote.
“During the time of the budget process they have these caucus meetings. I call them the corral, they [GOP members] members are fed lunch by some group that wants favors and then they are told what’s going on by the leadership,” said Rice. “Now, these leaders were elected by the members. These are now the folks that hold the gavel over them. Well, you like to think you can trust your leaders.”
Both Chambliss and Rice say that conservative watchdog groups are going to start watching the budgets more closely to make sure that the state’s fund are administered properly.