Legislators: Just say ‘no’

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 17, 2012

Yesterday, Gov. Robert Bentley declared proration of 10.6 percent for the state General Fund budget.

The declaration cuts budgeted spending by $188 million. What most don’t understand is that because we are six months into the fiscal year, a 10.6 percent cut is essentially a 21.2 percent cut for the remainder of the year.

While this “news” wasn’t really news – for months, political insiders had been saying proration was coming – it does mean serious trimming for those state agencies funded by this budget – Medicare, the Department of Corrections, mental health, human resources, public health, public safety, the judicial system and the legislature.

Which brings us to a point already upsetting many. Legislators are slated to get a $1,608 cost of living raise in April, a footnote to the 61 percent pay increase they received in 2007. Almost every person serving in the legislature who was not a legislator in 2007 used the raise as a campaign point. Legislation to overturn the raises stalled this past week.

The cost of living raise scheduled this year will cost the state a total of about $225,000. That wouldn’t do much to help the flow of $188 million crossed out of the budget in red Friday afternoon.

But it’s the principle of the matter. Why do legislators deserve more when others are forced to do with less?