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Zeigler Thinks Special Session Heading Toward Failure

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—State Auditor Jim Zeigler believes, if a proposed BP bill fails, the entire Legislative Session will be a waste.

Zeigler favors the compromise bill to allocate $850 million in BP settlement split between State debt and Baldwin and Mobile counties. Under the agreement $448 million would repay State debts and $191 million would go to Baldwin and Mobile counties, which were directly impacted by the spill. “Repaying the debt will then free up $70 million for the General Fund, filling the reported shortfall in the Medicaid budget,” according to Zeigler.

Coming on the heels of a contentious session, doubts that the House and Senate can find common ground are widespread.

However, Zeigler believes Governor Robert Bentley’s failed leadership is causing the session to grind to a near fatal halt. “The governor did not do his homework on the lottery bill, plus it was a badly flawed bill,” Zeigler said. “That leaves only the BP bill to keep the session from being a total failure.” Zeigler supports legislation granting authority to sell bonds paid back from BP payments that will total $850 million over 17 years. According to Zeigler, the bond issue would produce about $639 million.

The State owes $584 million to the Alabama Trust Fund, which was created in the 1980s to conserve money the State receives from gas wells in the Gulf.

Zeigler, a constant critic of the Governor, blames Bentley for failing to pass such legislation in the last Regular Session. “The citizens I talk with have a strong feeling that the Special Session was not necessary and was not well handled by the Bentley administration,” said Zeigler. “The taxpaying public resents having to pay for a Special Session, when the issues could have and should have been addressed in the Regular Session.”

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Very few lawmakers express confidence in finding a solution in three short days, but Bentley seems determine to drive forward, even though his political capital in the State House is less than zero.

Written By

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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