Governor should strike now
Steve Flowers, State perspective
Last week, I closed with the thought that in my opinion there are two measures which would significantly improve the long term financing of Alabama's state government.
The first would be the permanent banning of the pass through pork projects by legislators.
The second significant budget improvement would be the basing of the state budget on the past year's revenue rather than a projected budget of what is expected to happen in the next fiscal year.
The problem of projecting budgets becomes more pronounced in election years. It is amazing how rosy and optimistic the tax dollar growth projection becomes every fourth year when all the legislators are running for reelection. Everybody gets a raise and every pet project gets funded that fourth year. It is a financial nightmare. For some strange reason Governor Riley has overlooked or ignored this conservative approach of using last year's income for budgeting in his accountability proposals. It is even more surprising since he made that a hallmark issue in his race for governor.
This proposal would be the most important measure in securing a more sound financial structure to our state budgets.
The move to ban pass through pork has surprisingly been acquiesced to by the current legislative body. The governor, if he is serious about accountability, should seize this opportunity and strike while the iron is hot. If this legislation is passed with some teeth to it, then the "Accountability Session" will be successful with the passage of this legislation alone.
Today the budget is built around pork projects first and the basic foundations of state government are second and built around the pork. It is ludicrous.
It has only gotten worse, and pork has become a significant amount of your tax dollar. A dollar here and a dollar there and pretty soon you're talking about real money. It's no wonder why people don't want to raise their taxes and send any more money to Montgomery.
I believe the dire financial straits that current legislators find themselves in at this time may have made them reassess the importance of pass through pork.
It would be an important step in the right direction if it is achieved and, as mentioned, would be a significant legislative success.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers writes a weekly column on Alabama politics. He served 16 years in the State Legislature. Steve may be contacted at www.steveflowers.us