Legislators shouldn’t be paid for failure

Published 12:24 am Saturday, August 8, 2015


For the past two weeks the Alabama legislature has been convened in a special session to come to an agreement on a General Fund budget for the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2015. At the moment, the current shortfall is $200 million.

So far, the House approved a budget that cut $156 million from Medicaid, which Gov. Bentley said was unacceptable, but he decided Thursday, that Planned Parenthood would no longer receive any funding from the state. They have also voted to do away with the Forever Wild program, and allocate that money to fund the state parks. It doesn’t seem to matter that the Forever Wild program was on the ballot as a constitutional amendment in 2012 and approved for a 20-year reauthorization. If the House passes the Forever Wild Legislation, it will once again be on the ballot for a vote. Their next move will be to take money from the Education Trust Fund and transfer it to the General Fund.

The legislature does not seem to be any closer to finding a solution and most likely the governor will have to call a second special session, which costs taxpayers about $100,000 a week. The current special session must end by Tues., Aug. 11.

I believe that taking away health care options for our low-income families and taking even more money out of the education budget will make things even worse for the state of Alabama. The state government should want healthy and educated residents. If the governor is intent on bringing jobs to the state, the companies will want to see that they have the capacity to fill those jobs.

I do have one solution for the budget shortfall: that our elected officials don’t get paid unless they do their jobs. They are in regular session from March-June with only 30 meeting days and they get paid $42,849 a year, which is more than most people make in a year. I know if I didn’t do my job in the time allotted, I wouldn’t have one.

The average salary in Alabama is $39,180. Many of these legislative members have been in office for 20-30 years. I can’t understand why they continue to be elected. I would never be hired anywhere if I underperformed at my job.

If they spent less time worrying about gay marriage and more time worrying about things that truly matter, we would be in a lot better shape.

Erin Johnson Wingard is an advertising designer for The Star-News.