You asked for it, now the ax falls

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

Despite the deep vocalizations of the Amendment 1 detractors - saying the governor, the Legislature and state agencies were "crying wolf" - the budget ax is about to fall.

Reading the stories in the newspapers, hearing the reports on the radio, seeing the interviews on television; one has to finally realize that Governor Riley wasn't bluffing. The state really is in a financial crisis.

Despite his best of intentions, Governor Riley simply wasn't able to convince the people of Alabama that his plan was what was needed. Instead, large corporations and special interest groups were able to handily scare the people of Alabama into voting no with blatant mis-truths, twisted facts and plain ol' fear.

Now, as the budget ax begins to fall - even before the Legislature reconvenes in a special session to develop a budget - the worst of fears are coming true.

People are about to lose their job. Protection levels are about to decrease. Important social services are going to end. Prisoners are about to walk free.

Why should that concern you? Because our own Attorney General Bill Pryor has basically said people should buy home security systems - even guns - to protect themselves from the impending release of prisoners.

Yes, it is true these prisoners about to be released are deemed "non-violent," but that doesn't make us feel any better.

Many of the prisoners are drug offenders who will simply return to what is old habit.

Our protection is about to drop on the highways. State Trooper ranks will drop. A Trooper post will close.

"We're going to see an increase in fatalities, there's no doubt," Col. Mike Coppage head of the Department of Public Safety told the Birmingham News.

The Opportunity House is going to lose $42,000 in funding. Funding it uses to protect the victims of domestic violence. That's our neighbors, sisters, cousins and friends.

Fifty-two driver's license examining stations will close. Now, young drivers could be forced to take their driver's test in a large, unfamiliar city with heavy traffic. That's a safety issue in itself.

Yes, the voters told the governor that the state must live within its means, according to State Finance Director Drayton Neighbors. And that's exactly what Governor Riley is about to give the state.

And the state's not going to like it.