One morning last week I read a news report that said the Alabama Legislature is looking at the State’s budget process to “make data-driven decisions on how best to address the reoccurring fiscal challenges facing our State.” Interesting. I don’t know how one could make a sound financial decision without focusing on data.
Apparently the Joint Task Force on Budget Reform (JTF) released information a few weeks ago hoping to shed some light on why the State always has financial woes. The task force study required about ten percent of those serving in the Legislature to come up with solutions. I didn’t see any solutions from this august assembly but I understand the focus was centered upon the following: Budget process; agency review; earmarking; tax credits, exemptions, deductions; tax fairness.
It seemed like the JTF uncovered nothing that should have been hiding from elected officials. All of the problems exposed in this report have been well known by the Legislature while being under the control of Republicans and Democrats alike.
The report also said the JTF will offer further findings to the Legislature on the fifth Legislative Day of the 2018 Regular Session. Of course, that will have to be studied by the ninety percent that did not participate in the JTF, and the lobbyists that own them all.
A few minutes after reading the JTF’s Einstein-like discoveries I read another piece of news that led me into an angered state. The headline read…”Water park fans rejoice.”
An organization in the Midwest, coupled with those of reasonable intelligence in Georgia, has decided to create what was called, “A massive indoor water park and resort.” Great Wolf Lodge announced the opening would be in the spring of 2018, the same time the Alabama Legislature assembles with its collective tortured logic wondering how to pay the state’s bills. Of course the water park will be placed near the Alabama border. Wonder why?
According to the report I read the development will include a 93,000-square foot indoor water park featuring water slides, a giant tipping bucket, wave pool, lazy river and zero-depth entry water play area. There will also be a ropes course and climbing wall, family-sized bowling lanes and an arcade. The development will also include 456 themed hotel suites. In other words there will be signs everywhere that convey a simple idea: Hey Alabama, come spend your money in Georgia and help us pay our bills.
Now just how did these two pieces of news tie together in the mind of this rapidly aging Auburn graduate? I did learn a little about budgets with my finance degree, not much but enough to say that a budget involves money in and money out. One cannot pay what goes out the door if at least the same is not coming in the door. If not enough money is coming in the door then you must reduce the amount of money going out the door. Of course the JTF didn’t ask me for the nearly brainless advice I have to offer.
With all of that in mind the moronic mental state of our leaders is amplified when one considers the ongoing debate surrounding gambling. Not all of our problems can be solved with gambling revenue but it sure will put a dent in any budget shortfall we have.
The state is in dire need of revenue and no task force can make an assertion to the contrary. We have legal gambling now, in various forms. We have gambling on properties that bring in tons of money but pay no taxes. And then we fail to offer gambling in other forms. This makes no sense at all, especially when it is sinful for the current legislature to even contemplate raising taxes.
Alabama citizens go across our four borders daily to gamble and pay the bills of other states. And our citizens will go across the Georgia border to the water park to spend money in Georgia. Our neighbors know they can count on us to help them while we hurt ourselves.
My question to legislators is simple: Is this so difficult to understand? Do what we need to do and stop the bleeding or else nothing will get better no matter how many task forces we create.