By Senator Gerald Dial
Some have compared state government to the young orphan boy Oliver in the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist.
When gruel was finally being handed out at the workhouse, Oliver asked for more. More?
Of course he wanted more. Oliver was hungry…very hungry. With no family and no money he couldn’t get anything to eat on his own. Oliver had no choice but to beg for more and hope that someone would have enough compassion in their heart to help him. With no education, he would not be able to provide for himself in the future.
Our state funded agencies and our public schools are much like Oliver, forced to beg for more and having to rely on others to help them out so that those they serve and the services they provide can continue.
Actually, I believe that state government could best be described by looking at the character Ebenezer Scrooge in another Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol.
While Scrooge hardly touched his own hearty meal, he gave his clerk, Bob Cratchit, barely enough money to buy some bread to feed his family. With so little food for Mr. Cratchit to bring home, there is no doubt that his son, Tiny Tim, went to bed hungry just like many of our seniors in Alabama will as well due to the budget cut to Meals on Wheels funding.
And what if Ebenezer had given a little more to the “Lime Street City” schools? You and I know that Tiny Tim and his brother and sisters would have been equipped to better care for themselves down the road if only they were adequately educated and their schools were properly funded.
Tiny Tim shouted, “God bless us everyone!”
But what did Old Scrooge here in Alabama do when he heard that yell?
He joined with the “Back Row Scrooges‘” and took more money away from the “Lime Street City” schools making it more even difficult for Tiny Tim and his siblings to receive an adequate education.
Because you see, Ebenezer and the “Back Row” bunch have no care for those less fortunate and they also believe education has too much money.
“We need to steal some of it. Who cares if the children get nothing?” they said.
Hopefully, before the next legislative session, the Ghost of Christmas Present will visit the “Back Row Scrooges” and others who think like them.
Maybe then there will be some compassion for those who are unable to help themselves.
Maybe then there will be a realization about the importance of properly funding education for all.
Maybe then there will be agreement about finding additional solutions to the revenue and funding issues still facing our state.
If not, then to you I say, “Bah Humbug!”
Gerald Dial represents District 13 in the Alabama Senate, which includes all or parts of Randolph, Lee, Cleburne, Clay, Cherokee, and Chambers counties.
He serves as Chairman of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee. Gerald and his wife Faye reside in Lineville.