As promised, State Auditor Jim Zeigler delivered an unusual extra rebuttal to the annual State of the State address, delivered by Gov. Robert Bentley to the Legislature Wednesday morning.
Zeigler got straight to his point with a cutting introduction
“The State of the State is a mess,” said Zeigler. “This could not have been made more clear as Governor Bentley once again betrayed Alabama taxpayers with plans for bigger government and increased spending as a solution to our problems.
“This embrace of Democrat principles comes in the wake of a tumultuous 2015 in which Gov. Bentley disappointed Alabamians with flip-flopping and repeated betrayal of our values and his campaign promises,” he intoned.
Zeigler faintly praised the governor for not proffering any tax increases, but he also said he failed to put forward ideas for “new efficiencies, cost-savings, and better ways to get things done for less money,” ideas Zeigler prides himself on as Alabama’s “Waste Cutter.”
Surviving the $225 million budget deficit currently projected without increasing revenues will require a strategy Zeigler calls “thinking outside the tax.”
Zeigler enumerated several tactics for implementing his mantra including reducing Medicaid payments by allowing seniors to receive treatment in their homes, reduce prison populations by allowing offenders to work instead of serving prison time, and change funding formulas to allow state parks to fund their own operation.
Zeigler agreed with Bentley on opposing the acceptance of Syrian refugees, but hammered away at usual disagreements involving official history, college tuition, and a general attitude about the size and scope of government.
“The Legislature has before it a bill to enable the Governor to appoint a ‘Taxpayer’s Advocate.’ We are 100 percent against having the Governor make this appointment,” Zeigler said at one point in the speech. “To have Governor Bentley appoint a Taxpayer’s Advocate is like having the fox guard the henhouse.”
Zeigler continued in a hard-right vein calling for an end to abortion and gun control, before ending on a painful note for the administration, the failure of its payroll software which allowed thousands of payments to vendors to fall into arrears.
“The State of the State is a mess,” Zeigler concluded. “The taxpayers ask the legislature to exercise their constitutional checks and balances with the strongest steps to right the ship of state.”
See the full text of Zeigler’s speech here.