March 08, 2010
This nation and this state are experiencing economic times unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. In other words, we are hurting, our families are hurting. Increased job losses, declining home values, foreclosures, rising cost of energy and food, and unrelenting health care costs are beating us down yet Washington continues to squabble and is disconnected from the reality of hardworking people. They need to take a lesson from Alabama and here is what they would learn.
First, you make tough budget decisions and don’t raise
taxes. In fact, I was part of the team that passed last year’s $50 million
income tax cut, exempting federal stimulus rebate checks from state
taxation. That contributes to our state having the lowest tax burden in
We also invest our tax dollars wisely. Our highway jobs bill is the perfect example. There are four options to pay for this new construction. One, we could stand by and do nothing, let our road and bridges continue to deteriorate and let these jobs go elsewhere. Two, we could raise the gas tax. Third, we could borrow $1 billion, putting this state and our children into more debt. All of these options, I say absolutely not to. That leaves option four which is to use the interest from the Alabama Trust Fund, our rainy day fund and invest $1 billion over 10 years to help every county in Alabama. That’s the most conservative, fiscally prudent choice and this would create 30,000 new jobs.
Being a fiscal conservative has helped Alabama in other ways as well. During good years, we had the foresight to save for a rainy day, and our savings accounts’ reserves, championed by the Alabama Legislature, have spared our schools and seniors from what could have been a catastrophic financial scenario during the last two years. A conservative approach to budget forecasts, saving money for tough economic times, stretching every dollar and investing in our many needs when resources are available, are the best approaches to funding state budgets. State government must do what families do when paying bills. We must prioritize spending and cut waste.
There is no question our budgets are facing lean times. Our state education budget is down $1.5 billion from funding it enjoyed just a couple of years ago. The state’s general fund budget is in even worse shape. By setting priorities, we have been able to increase funding to the Medicaid Agency and support programs that many of our seniors depend upon. We also expanded the Children’s Health Insurance Program, our first-in-the-nation program that provides healthcare to children of working families and now 20,000 more kids are covered. We doubled the funding for prekindergarten. By making this program a priority, 1,000 additional children can not participate in the program. This gives them a head start in school.
I also want to thank the Northwest Alabama RC & D for awarding me their Franklin County 2010 You Make A Difference Award. I am honored by their selection of me and promise to continue to work hard for the people of my senate district.
I had the pleasure of presenting RC & D grants this past week, including one to the Franklin County Imagination Library which is a program that provides books for preschool age children, one to the Tharptown High School for textbooks, one for the Spirit of Hodges Festival, one to the Russellville Head Start program for equipment upgrades, one to Riverton Rose Trail for the construction of a park pavilion, one for the Spruce Pine Community Center, one for the Winston County Assign-A-Highway program designed to use probationers for roadside litter removal in Winston County and one for the Andrea Gonzalez Education Memorial used to educate the community about domestic violence and a tribute to Andrea Gonzalez.
I am pleased to see these much needed grants come to our area to assist with these important community and educational projects.
Should you need to reach me for any reason please do so at the following addresses.
Roger H. Bedford, Jr.
Alabama State House
Montgomery, AL 36130
Roger H. Bedford, Jr.
P.O. Box 370
Russellville, AL 35653