Yesterday, I wrote about the inadequate officials who currently run the state government in Alabama. The state representatives and senators have just finished their most recent session. Please notice that I said "finished." I did not use the word "completed." Because, by most evaluations, there was absolutely nothing completed in their work.
Nothing. Nada. Zero. And you would have thought that this group would have some incentive to do a good job. After all, it was only last year that they approved a 62% pay raise for themselves! Of course, this increase was for themselves, not on behalf of the people who elected them--it was for themselves! I'm not sure if you were to add up all the pay raises I've ever received it would add up to 62%.
This year, our representatives and senators were feeling generous again, dishing out pay raises to other elected officials. This year, their "chosen" target was the salary for the mayor of Birmingham. They decided that his salary of $88,000 wasn't enough, so they raised it by $40,000 annually. I wonder, how many people in Alabama live off of less than $40,000, much less ever see a raise like that! That is, unless you are a friend of the mayor who is promoted from cutting city grass to head of the department, and goes from making $30,000 or so to over $110,000 a year!
It was these same senators and representatives that failed to pass a law reducing the sales tax on food sold in Alabama. How could they pass this tax savings, obviously we have to pay for the mayor of Birmingham to get his raise, and who knows, maybe the senators and representatives will see fit to raise their salaries again. The fine people of Alabama don't need the tax savings. Maybe, we'll just cut back on our food purchases or on the gasoline for our cars.
Our wonderfully elected officials also decided that it was not to the citizens of Alabama advantage to pass a law that prohibited smoking in public places and work environments. No, that wouldn't benefit the health of the people in our state. It was such a bad idea that the bill died without even a vote in Montgomery.
Then, on the final day on Goat Hill, the senators and representatives effectively killed the education budget for the next year. It seems that there was a gap of $25 million dollars standing in the way of our children. The colleges and universities were to be cut 11% in their budget, the K-12 schools were to be cut 2% in their budgets. Well, the powers that be in the state of Alabama decided those numbers were totally unacceptable. So, they allowed the education bill to die, again without even voting on it.
What happens now that the bill has died? Well, several things now happen. First, a special session will need to be called by the governor. The wonderful people of Alabama will reward our senators and representatives with an additional $350,000-500,000 to carry out the work they were supposed to do in their regular session. Question for you: Did your Mama reward your bad behavior by increasing your allowance or did she spank your bottom? The answer is really simple isn't, well, to everyone outside Montgomery!
Then, since the education budget wasn't approved, now all non-tenured teachers and staff face the possibility of receiving pink slips from the state of Alabama. You read that right. They will basically be fired, that is, until a budget is approved. They will be fired until June, July, August, September...or later, whenever the senators and representatives get around to doing their job, deciding on a budget, and getting it signed by the governor. But, forgive me, wasn't that what they were supposed to do the first time around?
Today, I decided to take my complaints to the men and women who represent my family and to the elected leadership in both the senate and house. I also contacted both the democrat and republican parties, to express my frustration and disappointment with their inaction.
Their reaction? Well, out of the nearly dozen people I wrote, only two people had the courage to respond. Two out of twelve! And, to make matters worse, one of those who responded basically answered by saying that the problem was with the other branch of government. It was not his place of service, they had done their job. The "others" were guilty of doing nothing!
We exchanged several emails, and I will admit that we had a good conversation. Finally, the person asked me an amazing question. He asked, "What would you suggest that I do?" Wow, what a question. I paused for a moment to make sure how I wanted to respond to his question. Here's what I replied:
"If I were to give a suggestion, as you asked, I would encourage you to take the lead on getting something accomplished on these issues ASAP. Work with the senate, the governor's office, and all involved to bring resolution to the issues at hand. I think, from a state perspective and from a political perspective, our citizens are looking for a leader to bring hope and resolution. I would encourage you to be that leader. As you do, you will hear those famous church words...'The people will rise up and called you blessed!'
I believe that! The state of Alabama needs a leader. The state of Alabama needs a man or woman to step up to the plate for the people, to put aside their party, to put aside the lobbying pressure, to put aside what will get them re-elected. We need a leader. We need someone to stand up, to do the right thing, to vote with conviction, to speak frankly and honestly, and to take the consequences that come.
Where are those men and women? Well, if the responses or should I say lack of responses to my email are an indication, there aren't many of those leaders in Alabama. At least not yet! However, as I told the two people who did have the courage to email back to me, I believe the day is coming when the people have had enough of this kind of foolishness. The day is coming when the people will say enough is enough and vote them all out of office.
I believe that day is now.
So, I'm watching. I'm waiting. And, I'm praying that men and women will put aside every other question and put our citizens first. I can support that type of person. And I will.
All others need not apply for my vote or support!