By Rep. Darrio Melton
Last week, the Alabama Legislature did something that no working Alabamian would ever consider: they left work before the job was done.
Under state law, the Legislature is allowed to meet 30 legislative days each year, however the Republican Supermajority chose to close the books and call it quits on day 29. This wouldn’t be a big deal if they had finished their work early–if they had gotten the job done in less time, going home early would have only saved the state money. Instead, they left without a budget for the next year, which means the Governor has two choices: call back 140 legislators for a special session or let the government shut down in October.
The Republicans spent 29 days arguing about whether or not there was a revenue gap and finding ways to cut our way out of trouble, even when the Governor promised he would veto any budget that didn’t include new revenue. When they sent Bentley a budget with drastic cuts across the board, he stuck to his word and vetoed the budget. The House chose to override the Governor’s veto and the Senate adjourned before it was able to vote on overriding the veto.
This is why leaving early is a big deal: they could have spent the last day either overriding the Governor’s veto or working with the governor to find a solution to the problem. Or at least run the clock out trying. Instead, they quit on the job and walked away, forcing the tax payers to pay for them to do this entire process over again in a special session.
The Republicans ran for office and were elected on platforms of fiscal responsibility–but quitting work before the job is done and failing to produce a budget are anything but fiscally responsible. And this time, there’s nobody to blame but their own lack of leadership.
The Democrats haven’t been the problem–we are at numbers so low that we have no ability to control any part of the legislative process.
The President hasn’t been the problem–he has no bearing on the state of Alabama’s ability to pass a budget.
The only boogieman the Republicans have left to blame is the one in the mirror–their own lack of leadership and failure to work together to find a solution to the problems facing Alabama.
Hopefully the Republicans will start with the men in the mirror, asking them to change their ways. No message could be any clearer–if they want to make Alabama a better place, they have to look at themselves and make a change.
Representative Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves as the chair of the House Democratic Caucus.