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Patchwork Solutions Aren’t Necessary, Reasonable or Realistic When We Address The Budget Crisis

By Rep. Darrio Melton

Last week, Governor Bentley called the Alabama Legislature into a special session to address the state’s looming budget shortfall.

Now this isn’t a new problem- we  had 30 meeting days to do the business of the state. However, instead of addressing the budget shortfall, the Republicans allowed bills up for discussion on a range of topics from riding in the back of pick-up trucks to declaring a state crustacean.

Without reaching a compromise during this special session, the Alabama government will shut down due to lack of funding–without appropriations from the legislature, the various departments like the Public Safety and our Department of Human Resources will be greatly impacted.

When the governor issued his call for the special session, he specifically said that he didn’t want the legislature to consider any gaming bills–only those pertaining to new taxes for Alabamians.

Regardless of the governor’s wishes, the legislature can bring gaming bills–or any other bills–with a three-fifths vote of the legislature.

It’s unnecessary to take a solution off the table, only to force a balanced budget on the backs of our hardest working families.

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It’s unreasonable to expect working men and women to pay more in taxes until we’ve expanded Medicaid and accepted the federal money available to make that program solvent.

It’s unrealistic to think we can patch the hole with BP settlement checks, when that money belongs to the Gulf Coast for restorations and repairs from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

We don’t have time to consider unnecessary, unreasonable and unrealistic solutions to our state’s problems.

It’s necessary that we consider all options on the table, especially gaming revenue to avoid levying new taxes.

It’s reasonable to accept the federal dollars we already pay to help fund our healthcare system.

It’s realistic to consider the options on the table, not borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, and solve this crisis by making responsible decisions.

The people of Alabama deserve for us to lead. They deserve better than patchwork solutions to an overwhelming crisis. I hope my colleagues will take this process seriously and move this state forward.

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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.

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