By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Saturday, January 18 Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) was in Cleburne County addressing the Cleburne County Republican Party as their Winter Dinner event.
Governor Bentley said that Cleburne County will always have a special place in his heart because when he was running for the office of Governor he was watching the election returns at home on the computer and thought he had won enough votes to earn a place in the Republican Primary so drove down to campaign headquarters. By the time he arrived at campaign headquarters however new numbers had come in showing that Tim James was in second and Bradley Byrne (now a U.S. Congressman from the first district) was in first place. Some of the campaign workers were crying and everyone thought that Bentley would finish the Republican Primary in third and out of the Republican Party Primary Runoff so he went back home. On the way home he learned however that some counties results were still not in. One of those counties was Cleburne County. When Cleburne County reported in, Bentley had finished second there. Judge Roy Moore had won Cleburne County; but Bentley had beaten Tim James there by 67 votes. Those 67 voters proved decisive. “Thank you, Cleburne County for those 67 votes.”
Governor Bentley said that he enjoys traveling to different parts of the state. The Gov. said that Montgomery officials don’t have a clue about the people of the state and neither do the associations which is why he likes to go out and meet with the people direct so that he can hear their needs and then do what he can to address their problems.
Governor Bentley said of the proposed Medicaid expansion that the country is doomed if the federal government does not get it’s spending under control. “Foreign powers can’t touch us, but the debt will kill us.” This nation is $17.2 trillion in debt and that is growing by $2 billion a day. “We are doomed.” “I am not going to be part of that. I will not put another 300,000 able bodied adults on a government dependency program.”
The conservative Governor said that the state is on a pace to pay off the $437 million which was borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund by the end of 2015.
Gov. Bentley said that to improve graduation rates the state needs to get students involved in something that they love which will prepare them for a career when they finish. 98% of students who are involved in FFA graduate from high school because they know that they will be farmers someday. The schools need to find a career path for students and then work to get students ready for following that path.
Gov. Bentley said that the Affordable Care Act has created more doubt and confusion in the minds of business and that is what is slowing job creation in the country. The Governor said that creating new jobs has been his focus as Governor and that to this point his administration has created 59,400 new Alabama jobs and that does not count another 40,000+ new jobs which have been announced at places like Airbus that are coming soon.
Bentley said that when he became Governor the Alabama economy was the worst it has been since the Great Depression. Unemployment was high, the state had spent all of the Obama stimulus and all of the rainy day funds, and all of the economic incentive funds to lure new jobs. The state was broke. Some people told Bentley that the answer was to raise taxes. One proposal was to raise cigarette taxes. Gov. Bentley said that he rejected that solution and instead resolved to make Alabama government more efficient.
Bentley said that his administration has worked to attract new jobs and get the state’s fiscal house in order. Working with the Republican legislature the state has cut state spending by over a $billion a year. Unemployment is still not a full employment but the unemployment rate has been dropping and it is now at 6.2%.
Bentley said that his number one goal has been to help Alabamians help their families by getting a job and acknowledged that there is still more work to do.
Bentley said that when he became governor he realized that the state needed to repair its roads and bridges so he devised a program called ATRIP which used GARVEE bonds to get over a $ billion worth of road and bridge repairs.
The Governor thanked the people of Cleburne County for those 67 votes and asked for their support as he seeks another four years in office.