By Rep. Darrio Melton
Last week, Governor Bentley came clean about the state’s budget shortfalls–Alabama is officially broke, broke, broke.
This comes as no surprise to anyone who keeps up with Alabama politics. I would hope that includes the Governor.
Alabama’s teachers know the state is facing a funding crisis: they’re being asked to do more for our students with less money and have taken a pay cut over the past four years.
Alabama’s state employees know that we’re in financial trouble: record numbers of employees have been laid off and the remaining employees are struggling to keep up.
Alabama’s prison system knows we’re facing an uphill battle: we’re risking a federal takeover if we don’t correct issues and reform our system quickly.
Even Alabama’s own leadership knew there was going to be a problem: years of borrowing from the trust fund to cover budget shortfalls is coming due, and we haven’t done anything to bridge the revenue gap in the interim.
The fact of the matter is that the GOP plan to give away our hard earned tax dollars to big businesses and private schools isn’t working. We have to look at a permanent solution.
Just like in our personal budgets at home, we can’t balance the budget from one side. There’s only so much you can cut from your expenses and only so much you can pull from savings before you put your family into a financial hole. The state budget is no different–the dollars are just bigger.
We have to get creative to bridge the gap without balancing the burden on the backs of working Alabamians.
It’s time for the Republicans to show the leadership they bragged about in their campaign ads–it’s not always about doing what’s popular with special interests and lobbyists, but doing what’s best for the people of this state they were elected to represent.
In the next four years, we’re all going to have to make some tough decisions and create some compromises to work together and bail Alabama out of this financial hole.
I’m ready to come to the table to work for a better Alabama, and I hope the Republicans will take a seat and put the people over politics, too.
Representative Darrio Melton was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010. He serves as the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.