By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
Recently, our state leaders have been going around patting themselves on the back for how much they have changed things over the past four years. They say over the next four years they are going to “be bold” if not “bolder” than they were before. They plan to go even further than they have in the past. This should be a wake up call to everyone in the state, especially our educators and state employees.
The last four years have certainly seen changes. But they have not been successful ones. We are the only state in the nation that has an increasing unemployment rate. We are 49th in the country for job creation. We also lead the nation in funding cuts to public education.
This is not a record to run on. This is a record to run from! These aren’t things to be proud of. These are things to be ashamed of!
It isn’t just a matter of the current leadership’s policies failing. It’s the way they have done business in Montgomery—the culture they have created.
First, let’s look at the way in which they passed the Accountability Act. Our current leadership passed one version of the bill, then went behind closed doors and switched it out for another version-a version that had not been debated on the House floor and included new spending. They rammed this bill through in the dead of night so that this second version of the bill was never given a chance to be read by the public before it became law!
Because they chose to use these Washington-style tactics, the courts have ruled the Act unconstitutional, both for what it does, but primarily for the illegal way in which it was passed.
It is never acceptable for our state leaders to keep the public in the dark. Nor should it be the policy of our state leaders to intentionally choose to go around the law to force through bad legislation that they know will be unconstitutional. Especially when that legislation involves how our tax dollars are going to be spent!
Instead of wasting taxpayer money, we should be investing in highways and our infrastructure so we can create jobs. Instead of cutting even more funding from our schools, we need to look at raising revenue through a lottery and entering into a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians.
And we should be looking for ways to give our law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators and other public employees a pay raise. Despite what Senator Phil Williams and other legislators may say in their mail pieces, the legislature has NOT given educators a pay raise. Educators and state employees are making less today than they did four years ago.
So I agree that historians will definitely talk about our current legislature in the years to come. But I doubt what they have to say will be very positive.
The last four years have not been good for our state. From multiple failed policies to the way our legislature is doing business, it’s not pretty. Now legislative leaders are promising to come back and “be bolder,” by forcing through even more doomed-to-fail policies, and using questionable political tactics even more aggressively. That’s not bold. That’s just dangerous!