By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Since 1990, no fewer than ten formal legislative committees, commissions, task forces, and other entities have been created by the Legislature to study budget and tax reform. This number, however, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO), doesn’t include “any task force or group created informally by either House and not specifically by resolution or other official act.”
Recently, Representative Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay) asked the LFO to compile a list of budget study groups since the passage of the Alabama Commission on Tax and Fiscal Policy Reform created by Act 1990-734.
“I was elected to the legislature in 1990. My first legislative hearing was The Alabama Commission on Tax and Fiscal Policy Reform created by Act 1990-734, said Morrow. It is 2016 and the Legislature is still studying the Issue of Budget Reform under Act 2016-480.”
Morrow, who taught Economics for 26 years at Northwest Community College, believes these study commissions are little more than a public spectacle designed to hoodwink voters into thinking that lawmakers are actually intent on real budget reform.
“In reality, the game being played is very simple,” said Morrow. “The Alabama Legislature is not really looking for solutions to budget problems. The Alabama Legislature is looking for ways to convince prospective voters that they are looking for budget solutions.”
What began under Democrats in 1990, continues today under the Republican Supermajority. In Morrow’s estimation, nothing has changed but party identification.
“I told my legislative colleagues in 1991 about a very basic concept in Economics: if your outgo exceeds your intake then your upkeep will be your downfall,” Morrow recalls. “This is true for a nation, a state, a business or a family.”
Morrow says he fears the Legislature is “incapable of understanding this concept and will continue to study while not doing a damn thing.”
According to Morrow these studies are not merely doing the same thing time after time and hoping for a different result, they are cynical machinations designed to dupe voters.
“Get past the next election. That’s the goal, and then we can appoint a new group to study budgets problems one more time.”
The latest study group created as The Joint Legislative Task Force on Budget Reform was enacted under the leadership of recently elected Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon. On the fifth floor of the State House, most Democrats and Republicans see McCutcheon as a committed leader who is seriously looking for answers to the State’s problem and not just another pony show agenda.