By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, June 3, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) was in the State Senate, on talk radio, and on Twitter to promote his controversial $50 million bond issue to build a 365 bed luxury hotel and conference center next to the Gulf of Mexico at Gulf State Park.
Governor Bentley was in the State House early to rally Senators to get behind his plan to raise revenue for the troubled State General Fund (SGF) and to pass the controversial $50 million bond issue.
The Governor followed that with a radio interview with 1070 AM talk radio host, Matt Murphy. Gov. Bentley had very harsh words for Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and other Senators who have been reluctant to pass his $50 million bond package for a speculative beach front hotel and conference center. Gov. Bentley called the opposition to his plan, “bogus.” The Governor said, “That’s all bogus. Let me tell you what that is, they are mad at each other… My good friend, Arthur Orr, he is mad because the education trust fund is not willing to help the general fund.”
Bentley continued saying that is, “Kind of like people in areas of the country who loot and burn their own grocery stores because they are mad at somebody.”
The Republican Governor of Alabama said, “Arthur Orr he is the one really holding this up but he is holding it up because he is mad at the education budget people.” “I love Arthur Orr. He is a great Senator.”
Gov. Bentley insisted, “This bond issue is good for the people of Alabama.” “It actually helps the General Fund.”
Gov. Bentley said that he supports the project, “To restore and build a lodge and conference center because these conferences are going to Florida. I have told people that I am not going to Florida for conferences to speak to Alabama people.”
On Twitter the Governor said, “I encourage the Alabama Legislature to give final passage to SB499. It is important as we move forward with the Gulf State Park Project.”
Gov. Bentley said that the 350 bed luxury hotel would generate $5 million a year according to one estimate that he has seen. Servicing the bond issue alone would cost $3.4 million. $5 million is a lot of money; but on a $130 million direct cost investment…..not including putting up $millions in state park property into this speculative investment, is only 3.8 percent return on investment…..none of which includes depreciation on the structure and the very high risk nature of building anything just a few feet above sea level adjacent to the hurricane prone Gulf of Mexico. The luxury hotel could stand there for a century and a hurricane could level it the year after it opens. Those bonds will have to be paid either way.
Gov. Bentley threatened that if his bond issue is not passed before the end of the legislative session that he would include it in his call for a special session. Bentley said that it is, “Almost worth having a special session just for this.”
There are only two days left in the 2015 legislative session and the Senate has yet to pass a State General Fund budget.