By Minority Leader Craig Ford
Elections are about choices–specifically, choices between different visions. And in the elections for our state legislature on Nov. 4th, there couldn’t be more at stake.
But what’s been interesting to watch is how so many sitting legislators have gone to such extreme lengths to run away from their record of the past four years.
How many times this year have you seen a TV ad or gotten a piece of mail talking about President Obama? Do these politicians think we don’t know any better? Even Gov. Bentley said back in June that there is nothing state legislators can do about Obama. But that hasn’t stopped the ads and mail that are, frankly, just plain insulting to our intelligence.
I guess some politicians will say and do anything to take attention off of their record of the past four years. But to be honest, if I had their record I wouldn’t want anybody to be thinking about it either!
Let’s start with jobs. After the last four years, Alabama is ranked 49th in the country for job creation. Last year, we were the only state in the whole country to see our unemployment rate actually go up! Our job growth has been mostly stagnant because for every job we create, we turn around and lose another one.
Maybe if these politicians had tried saving their constituents’ jobs, they wouldn’t have to work so hard to save their own?
Job creation, or the lack there of, isn’t the only place sitting legislators have failed their constituents. The Accountability Act is the perfect example of how our state leaders have not only failed their voting constituents, but they’ve failed the children of our state. And I honestly can’t think of anything worse.
The Accountability Act has taken millions of dollars out of our children’s classrooms and will continue to take millions out every year it is enforced. The Accountability Act is a quitter’s philosophy: it’s says, “if a school is struggling, don’t help it. Run away from it and leave those who can’t run with you behind.”
That is a terrible precedent our current state leaders are setting!
By abandoning these schools, we are also abandoning the children who can’t afford to transfer to a private school or another public school. Which, unfortunately, is the overwhelming majority of kids in these schools.
But the Accountability Act doesn’t just send terrible messages to our children. The manner in which it was passed also sends a pretty strong message to the people of Alabama about how much sitting legislators can be trusted. Our state leaders chose to pass the Accountability Act in a way that has been ruled by a judge as unconstitutional. Legislative leaders literally used back-room deals by going into a closed off meeting in the middle of the night and rewriting the law after a different version had already been passed – all so that the taxpayers would be kept in the dark about what was happening and exactly how the legislature was planning to allocate our tax dollars. Then they forced this new bill through the legislature after only one hour of debate.
Four years of a Supermajority in Montgomery has gotten us nothing but less jobs and a new law that turns our backs on failing schools and chips away at our faith in sitting legislators. The absolute power the Supermajority has is never a good thing for the taxpayers, regardless of which political Party is in control, and the last four years have proven that.
We need moderation and a cooperative spirit in Montgomery. There’s a lot at stake on November 4th, and the people of Alabama deserve a legislature that works for them, making this state the best it can be.
We need leaders who will work with members of both parties to find real solutions for Alabama. We need legislators who will work for the best interests of their constituents, not themselves, so we can bring efficiency, and most importantly, transparency and honesty back to the legislature.
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.