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Opinion | Politicians didn’t corrupt Alabama’s government. You did.

Josh Moon

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Would it have been so bad to elect a few Democrats in Alabama last year?

Before you answer — before your tribalism shines through and you pull on the Republican jersey and start chanting for your favorite team — let’s run through a few things.

As things currently stand with our Alabama Legislature, you have yourselves a nice, big, fat tax raise — a perpetual tax increase that will keep on increasing for years to come — by way of a gas tax. Starting this fall, you’ll pay an extra 6 cents per gallon.

Next year, you’ll pay 8.

By 2020, you’ll be paying 10.

Every year after that, you could pay up to a penny more. Depending on the road projects our lawmakers deem necessary.

To put that another way: You’ll definitely be paying at least a penny more every year.  

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Democrats didn’t do that.

Republicans did.

That same legislature has also carved out a permanent exception to the ethics laws for “economic developers.” Which, under the law rewritten by Republicans, is defined as “any person with a pulse.”

That exception was big news last year, when some Republicans — mainly the ones anyone trusts — begged and pleaded with leadership not to make the economic developers exception so broad. And as a compromise, that leadership agreed to make the exception expire each year. That way, if people started abusing it — which they’re definitely going to start doing — it could be reeled back in.

Well, you voters went to the polls last November and voted straight ticket Republican at a 60-percent clip, and so these guys decided you didn’t really care that much about ethics.

So, they’ve made that economic development exception permanent now. Even though Alabama has never lost a single economic development project because of these laws.

And they did that while also attempting to rewrite the entire ethics laws. And by “rewrite,” I basically mean “erase.” Because the rewrite would have made legal pretty much everything that was legal before Alabama’s tough ethics laws were put in place in 2010.

Democrats didn’t do that.

Republicans did.

With public school funding in Alabama still lingering at around pre-recession levels, we’re now on the verge of sucking tens of millions — and eventually hundreds of millions — out of our education budget to pay for children’s health care. The Alabama Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health services for more than 80,000 low-income children in the state, and it was once funded by the federal government (Before Republicans took control of Congress and the White House).

Alabama’s portion of funding CHIP this year is more than $30 million. Next year, it’s projected to be nearly $90 million.

Gov. Kay Ivey and most legislators want to use Alabama’s education dollars to make those payments. Sucking what will eventually be hundreds of millions of dollars annually out of Alabama classrooms.

Democrats didn’t do that.

Republicans did.

Once upon a time, there was a plan to cover those CHIP costs and add more dollars to education by way of an Alabama lottery. A lottery bill that should have had bipartisan support — since the president of the Alabama Senate sponsored an almost identical lottery bill four years ago and Democrats have pushed numerous similar bills — was blocked by that same Senate president, Del Marsh.

Instead of a lottery that would have generated an estimated $500 million annually and created 13,000-plus jobs, we’re a step away from approving a bill that would create a paper-only lottery that would generate less than $75 million annually for the general fund budget.

And not a penny for education.

It would also all but guarantee a gaming monopoly in the state for Poarch Creek Indians, who pay zero in state taxes but pay lots in campaign contributions.

Democrats didn’t do that.

Republicans did.

You see, these are the consequences of voting straight ticket. Of blindly following a party instead of voting for the person. Of failing to properly research candidates and ensure that they have a reasonable plan for addressing the most pressing needs. Of not caring whether a candidate represents your best interests.

Last year, you went to the polls and told Republicans in this state that you were cool with corruption. That you don’t mind big corporations buying off your lawmakers. That you don’t care about ethics or good government. That you’re not holding a single one of them responsible for their behavior so long as they have the correct party affiliation.

Democrats didn’t do that.

You did.

 

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