By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
One of the most famous scriptures in the Bible says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” That scripture kept running through my mind this past week as Gov. Bentley repeatedly claimed that he knows the people of Alabama “better than anyone” and that they are not interested in impeaching him.
That is a bold claim to make, and one that is also easily proven wrong.
Gov. Bentley didn’t seem to know the people of Alabama so well when he was proposing $700 million in tax increases last year. The governor wasn’t listening to the people of Alabama when he signed legislation that transferred $80 million out of the education budget.
Gov. Bentley certainly didn’t seem to know the people of Alabama earlier this year when he called for putting the state in a 30-year, $800 million-$1.5 billion debt to build four new “super prisons” for murderers, rapists and child molesters.
No, I don’t think Gov. Bentley knows the people of Alabama very well at all.
If the governor did know the people, he would call on the Legislature to finally let the people vote on a lottery!
If the governor did know the people, he would have pushed the lottery long before he ever considered pushing massive tax increases and raids on public education.
If the governor did know the people, he would expand Medicaid (which we are already paying for with our federal tax dollars, but like the lottery, our money is now going to other states instead of coming back home to Alabama where it belongs) and bring health care coverage to more than 300,000 uninsured Alabamians, almost all of whom are children and pregnant mothers.
If the governor did know the people, he would repeal the Accountability Act and instead invest those tax dollars directly into our classrooms and pre-k and k-12 programs we know work and improve student performance.
If the governor did know the people, he would be focusing on ways to support our public schools rather than support legislation like charter schools that seeks to weaken them.
If the governor did know the people, he wouldn’t say things like, “If you’re not a Christian, then you’re not my brother” and then turn around and use taxpayer dollars to fly him and the woman he was having an extramarital relationship with to a Celine Dion concert in Las Vegas (he didn’t reimburse the state until 19 weeks after the trip, and only after his relationship with Rebekah Mason had become public).
If the governor did know the people of Alabama, he wouldn’t have said, ”If you have things to hide, then maybe you’re doing things wrong” at the same time he was creating a dark money organization to hide the special interests groups that were paying Rebekah Mason’s salary.
And for these reasons and others, yes, the people do want to investigate and, if necessary, impeach the governor.
If Gov. Bentley thinks that the people of Alabama want hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars in new taxes, a $1.5 billion debt to build “super prisons” and $80 million raids on education, but aren’t interested in a state lottery, paved roads, adequate healthcare or a quality education for their children, then I’d like to know which Alabamians he is talking to because I haven’t met any of them yet.
My father always used to tell me to stay humble and to listen more than I talk. Gov. Bentley should take my father’s advice, because the more Gov. Bentley talks, the more he shows he isn’t listening to the people at all.
Pride has brought down many politicians. When Gov. Bentley speaks, it’s obvious it’s not the people he is listening to; it’s his pride.
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.