A round-up of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
The Anniston Star – More of the same in Montgomery
Alabama’s General Fund budget is the backyard swimming pool that’s never full. Be it from a leak or lackadaisical upkeep, it’s always on the shy side. Water’s constantly in demand.
This week, state lawmakers were warned: the General Fund that this year faced a shortfall of more than $200 million will face a gap of up to $50 million in the next fiscal year. The fixes — read: tax increases and budget cuts — the Legislature arranged this year only fixed the current problem. It did nothing for what’s around the corner.
It’s laughable to hear lawmakers this fall spout the usual talking points when told the state’s non-education bank account will need more repair.
We won’t raise taxes to shore up the General Fund, they say.
“I think there is very, very little likelihood of any new taxes passing,” Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, told The Star’s Tim Lockette.
It’s time we look at state-sanctioned gambling to produce new revenue, they say.
“Some form (of gambling) is going to definitely be out there during the (next) session,” Orr said.
Cuts to state departments, services and agencies will be considered, they say.
Funny guys, these lawmakers.
The Birmingham News – The real impact of the Alabama Senate’s new budget chairmen
It’s musical chairs in the Alabama Senate with Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) swapping places. Orr will now helm the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee while Pittman will lead the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee.
With a cash-strapped budget in the General Fund over the last few years, Senator Orr has been forced to scrutinize every line item. Like it or not, Alabama’s General Fund budget is about as tight as they come.
To put in in perspective, Alabama’s $1.76 billion General Fund budget for 2016 is over one hundred million dollars less than Metro Nashville’s budget for the same time period.
Now Orr will turn his focus onto Alabama’s education spending. For years, the Education Trust Fund has been the proverbial third rail for any politician who dares suggest changes. While K-12 education is often the focal point, higher education has largely avoided scrutiny.
In Alabama politics, true coincidence is rare.
The Decatur Daily – GOP candidates debate their debates
The Republican candidates for president, already frustrated, went ballistic during and after the CNBC debate. Sen. Ted Cruz eloquently, if inaccurately, summed up the frustration.
“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz said, in response to a question directed at him about the debt limit. “You look at the questions: ‘Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?’ ‘Ben Carson, can you do math?’ ‘John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?’ ‘Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?’ ‘Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?’ How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?”
While many of the questions could have been phrased more professionally, they were substantive.
Whether or not Trump would be a competent president, he makes outlandish claims on the campaign trail. So moderators appropriately asked him about how he would manage the mass deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants. And they were fair in challenging him on assertions he would not just build an impenetrable wall between the United States and Mexico, but get the Mexican government to pay for it. Trump’s claim that he could cut $10 trillion from the U.S. deficit without raising taxes needed to be questioned.
Moderators did not ask Carson if he could “do math,” but they did question him on his tax plan. The 15 percent flat tax he proposes would leave a $1 trillion gap between federal expenses and revenue. That doesn’t mean the doctor is bad at math, but it does suggest his cures for America’s ills are reckless.
Sen. Rubio was asked about his horrible record of showing up for Senate votes, but moderators weren’t the first to ask the question. Bush, one of Rubio’s constituents, also quizzed him on the issue. Rubio also was asked about a tax plan that would increase the after-tax income of the top 1 percent of earners far more than it would the middle class. That’s a fair subject for questions, even if he’d prefer not to give answers.
Dothan Eagle – The elusive illusion of highway funding
Drivers along the Ross Clark Circle’s southeast section seem to have come to an understanding about the ongoing construction between Bauman Drive and Fortner Street. They leave a little earlier, drive more slowly and expect delays during certain parts of the day. Local drivers who’ve been keeping up know there could be more to come – years more, in fact – if all the changes that have been discussed come to fruition.
Whether that happens is anyone’s guess.
The next phase of expansion on the Circle would add lanes from the intersection at Montgomery Highway around to Bauman Drive, and reconfiguration of roadway medians along the affected section. Local officials have been told for more than three years that the state had allocated money for the project. However, a recent meeting of local officials with Alabama Department of Transportation personnel revealed that the money was, as state Rep. Paul Lee put it, “hung up.”
It’s a frustration, surely. But it’s not unusual considering the complexities of highway funding involving multiple governmental entities.
Long ago, about $40 million was set aside for viability studies for an interstate connector for Dothan. About $28 million of that money remains, and local officials would like to see those funds made available for Circle improvements. This week, Houston County Commissioner Brandon Shoupe resurrected the idea of creating an overpass at U.S. 84 (Main Street) and the Circle on the west side of Dothan.
The Enterprise Ledger – Upon further review, we still can’t get it right
Following my social media mini-tirade last weekend on why Duke should have been awarded the victory over Miami since one of the worst officiating jobs during the replay era was on the last play of the game and therefore cost the Blue Devils a game they had won everywhere except the scoreboard, former Alabama player Doug Vickers replied, “They better not, or else I want my 1983 Penn State win.”
Vickers has a great point because deciding a game after the fact would open a big can of worms. But wait, isn’t that what the ACC officiating crew did? I mean, Duke had already won the game and today’s officials have instant replay to prove it, but despite the fact that a player’s knee was down on the eight-lateral kickoff return and anywhere from three to five blocks in the back were made by Miami – not to mention a player running onto the field with his helmet off before the play was over – officials took about nine minutes to decide they’d just call it good and head for the exits.
As big a choke as the Michigan game was against Michigan State, the ACC officials were even worse.
I understand officials are in a no-win situation each game regardless of the level of play – high school, college or professional. However, when you have instant replay and everything is as crystal clear as it was Saturday at Duke, how can such a decision be made? As for the block in the back penalty, that is not even a reviewable penalty, so how does that get waved off following replay?
I usually have empathy for officials because they don’t have a stake in the outcome and they have families at home and mothers that are proud of what they do, but suspending these guys for two games for taking a win away from the players, coaches and fans of Duke University because of their incompetence should really mean never getting to officiate as much as a Pee Wee game again.
The season’s high school football playoffs kicked off last night, and more games will be played tonight.
Eighteen teams in the TimesDaily coverage area qualified for the postseason fray — Russellville, Deshler, Brooks, Hamilton, Wilson, Lexington, Colbert County, Lauderdale County, Red Bay, Hatton, Phil Campbell, Vina, Phillips, Hackleburg, Muscle Shoals and Haleyville in the Shoals area, and Wayne County and Livingston Academy in Tennessee.
A celebratory congratulation goes out to the players and coaches for all of those teams. Each of them started the long season with their eyes set upon reaching the playoffs. Those 18 that did so can point with pride to the hard work and dedication that was expended this season.
We hope more than one of the schools brings a state championship back to the Shoals.
We also have an important message to offer the supporters of those postseason contenders: Good sportsmanship should not be limited to the action on the fields.
As the playoffs go on and the games grow more competitive and intense, the more passionate teams and their fans will become. Coaches and referees are aware of the importance of maintaining control of the players involved in the games, and those standing on the sidelines. But the fans must monitor what’s happening in the stands. And that’s every bit as important as controlling action on the field.
It’s easy to get so emotionally caught up in these important games that fans can let their actions get out of control. Honestly, it doesn’t happen a lot, but the intense pressure of the playoffs can add a rough edge to fan reaction. Many of those fans are parents or classmates of the teenagers on the field, and that can lead to heightened sensitivity.
So we urge the fans to be good sports, whether their teams are winning or losing. Avoid the temptation to overreact to calls of the referees, or second guess the decisions of coaches. Never hurl obscenities at anyone on the field of play — players, coaches or referees.
Most of all, remember the actions of a team’s fan base is a reflection of its school and city or town. If you act improperly at a football game, you will tarnish the image of your school and city or town. And the lasting implications of such behavior are just not worth the long-term consequences.
The Gadsden Times – Daylight saving time — crime fighter?
It’s been almost a week. Recuperated yet?
The annual end of daylight saving time on Sunday always throws off our circadian rhythms and leaves us a little out of sorts for a few days. Even worse (although we like the eventual outcome) is the spring switch back to daylight saving time. We don’t get enough sleep to be giving up an hour voluntarily, much less a forced loss when we “spring forward.” That requires an even longer recovery time.
For some time now there’s been a fair amount of debate about whether daylight saving time is a positive or negative thing.
It was supposed to help save energy by reducing lighting needs, but that’s doubtful given our 24-7-365 mentality and lifestyles. The extra hour of daylight after the workday leaves more time for leisure activities, but economists have been unable to determine definitively if it has a positive impact on the economy, as supporters contend.
However, there’s now evidence that suggests daylight saving time might be beneficial in reducing the crime rate. Researchers at the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary found that robbery rates go down when daylight saving time begins in the spring. During daylight saving time “… robbery rates for the entire day fall an average of 7 percent, with a much larger 27 percent drop during the evening hour that gained some extra sunlight.”
The Huntsville Times – Coloring books do not turn kids gay: A lesson for Alabama’s BOE
Did you hear the one where an Alabama State Board of Education member told an audience that radical “homosexualists” were attempting to indoctrinate students through coloring books?
It read just like an article from The Onion, only it really happened.
I actually thought I was past the point of being surprised by Alabama’s politicians and their knack for fear-mongering, hate-mongering, insert-here-mongering… but then I read what Betty Peters had to say to the Coffee County Republican Women last month.
“I understand Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi are the three Southern states targeted by the radical, left, homosexualists to change our students’ perspective,” she stated while discussing Common Core. “We have gone past gay, lesbian and bi-sexual and we’re now into gender fluid spectrum.”
It’s a line right out of Karl Rove’s own playbook, shrunk down to size for Coffee County’s Republican Women. When you have no grasp on the real issues, use the gays to scare voters and rally your base.
I can only imagine that, in naming those three states, Peters must be referring to the Human Rights Campaign’s Project One America, which is backed, in part, by Alabama-native and Apple CEO Tim Cook to advance LGBT rights in the South. The part about indoctrinating students, however, is new to me. And it’s also complete and utter nonsense.
Press-Register –Democrats in the South need to remind us they exist
In 1992, Louisiana-born political consultant James Carville coined a phrase that would help the then-governor of Arkansas win the Whitehouse: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Carville and Clinton knew that their Southern Democratic predecessor Jimmy Carter won the South by focusing on bread-and-butter middle class issues including poverty, jobs, and healthcare. (They did not focus on unions because Southerners were never too fond of them and the union movement was already weak by 1992.) Southerners had supported the Texan Lyndon Johnson when he was on Kennedy’s ticket in 1960, but soured on him after he later pushed through the Civil Rights Act. Johnson is said to have uttered, upon signing his landmark legislation, “We have lost the South for a generation.”
James Carville will speak at an Alabama Democratic Party luncheon in Montgomery Saturday, and I know he will be as brilliant and insightful as ever. But, tellingly, the event will be at a senior center.
Talk about a bad way to win the youth vote.
And Democrats need Millennials to win the South in the future. “Coming after the drubbing Democrats received in last year’s midterms, Tuesday was another bad Election Day for the party,” John Cassidy noted recently in the New Yorker. The Democratic Party can no longer rely so heavily on special interest groups or identity politics. In the South, it has to differentiate itself from Republicans.
Montgomery Advertiser – The reasons I share my opinions are many
From time to time, people ask me why I write. In the past my answers were in the vein of, “Because I enjoy it.” The other day, however, one of my closest friends asked me this question, and I could tell that my response fell short. Taking time to reflect, I arrived at a more meaningful answer. This is why I write:
I write because I was silent for much of my life. For more than 30 years my only concern was to defend our country from attack and to do the nation’s bidding on the battlefield. I gave a damn about politics. The nexus of my retirement from the military and the nation’s left turn, however, caused me much angst. Therefore, I will no longer be restrained; writing helps me feel as if I am still making a difference.
I write because our freedoms are being impinged. The Left in general, and this administration in particular, strive to silence the majority of decent Americans. Their weapon of choice is political correctness. History informs us that oppression and domination often begin with seemingly benign acts, such as removing certain words from our lexicon. Even more disconcerting is the Left’s unending effort to extinguish any and all thought that is not congruent with their worldview. Conservative Americans are instantly branded as “Haters, Racist, and Tea-baggers …” for simply expressing their beliefs and opinions. Being a conservative and believing in a traditional way of life is not hateful, it is a right. The only thing that I find more hateful than the Left’s attack on our liberties is the idea that I would be silent while my nation commits national suicide.
I write for those who cannot. I am moved to give voice to those who lost their life fighting for a way of life that is now being deliberately dismantled by our president and his Leftist cronies. I also write for those who will not speak out because they do not have the capacity, are fearful of the consequences or refuse to stand for what they know to be true. My words are not their words, but the act of stating publicly what I believe in may serve as an example for others. It is not important to me that others agree with my ideas; what matters is that a differing view is offered and considered. Moreover, I will determine for myself how I will live, how I will worship, and what constitutes a moral way of life. And I will not apologize for my words.
Opelika-Auburn News –Food pantry donations the difference between eating or not eating
While the Auburn University football season has not gone as well as fans would hope, there’s still plenty of football left to be played and plenty of hope that Malzahn & Co. will continue to bring glory to the Power of Dixieland.
As fans consider what the Tigers will need to do to beat cross-state rival the University of Alabama, we’d like to suggest that everyone put some thought, energy and effort into another game in town that everybody can play, one in which everyone wins.
It’s the Beat Bama Food Drive, a head-to-head contest in which Auburn fans compete against Alabama fans for the distinction of collecting the most non-perishable food for their local food bank.
Last year, the Tuscaloosa effort collected 300,049 pounds of food for the West Alabama Food Bank, besting to Auburn’s 198,041 pounds for the Food Bank of East Alabama, so the traveling trophy has been housed in the student union building at the University of Alabama since the winner was announced during last year’s Iron Bowl.
It’s the biggest food drive of the year for the Auburn-based food bank, and the need is real. The 200 agencies in seven counties served by the Food Bank of East Alabama serve more than 30,240 people each month through food pantries, soup kitchens, senior and youth programs and rehabilitation centers.
Some food bank insiders say donations have been lagging this year, that enthusiasm for the drive has paralleled flagging enthusiasm for football in a season that stands at 4-4 after Saturday’s game vs. Ole Miss. We prefer to think that many donors have been busy and simply haven’t made their donations yet.
The Tuscaloosa News –School officials must put child’s health first
Some might believe that it takes a village to raise a child, but we don’t think there’s any substitute for parents. Good parents provide children with the love, support and stability they need to grow into well-rounded adults.
And when it comes to making decisions about their children’s future, we think parents should be given as much authority as possible — more than school officials, more than child welfare advocates, more than the state and federal government. As long as their decisions don’t involve putting their child’s life in danger or inflicting cruelty on their child, parents ought to be in charge — even when their sensibilities don’t match society’s in general.
Of course, a parent will come along who will make all thoughtful people carefully ponder the wisdom of that philosophy. Rene Hoover of Athens has tossed out one such challenge that puts an Alabama school system in more than just an awkward position.
Hoover’s 14-year-old son, Alex, has what is considered a terminal heart condition called aortic mitral valve stenosis. It causes the heart’s mitral valve to narrow and restrict blood flow. Hoover said Alex has a fear of living in pain.
“The last procedure we had done, it took us three weeks to get him to go to bed at night because he was afraid if he went to sleep, he would wake up and something would be wrong or that he would hurt,” she told The Associated Press.