While 2017 may be considered a political “off year,” with no state or national elections, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler is ready to make the new year turning point for the Yellowhammer State, or in the very least a prelude to a turning point in 2018.
On Tuesday, he listed 12 resolutions for the state government in 2017.
“I will add more to this 2017 commonsense wish list as the February regular session of the Alabama legislature draws near,” Zeigler explained in a news release.
Here’s Zeigler’s current list of 2017 New Year’s Resolutions:
- Commonsense prison reform, not dollars and cents. Gov. Robert Bentley say he will try again for an $800 million bond issue to build four super-prisons at sites Bentley will select, closing 14 existing prisons. Zeigler says that move would in-debt the state for the next 30 years. Zeigler has presented an alternative to fix prison overcrowding and safety problems. He says his Plan Z would cost 75% less than the Bentley plan.
- Control the skyrocketing costs of the state’s Medicaid program, with block grants, per capita caps, or other new approaches under the Trump administration.”Without radical changes, Medicaid alone has the ability to bankrupt state government,” Zeigler said.
- Move forward with the plans of new State Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance to make our school system “the jewel of the South.”
- Use Alabama’s new influence with the Donald Trump administration to quickly start the widening of the Mobile BayWay and the new I-10 bridge. “Build the bridge.”
- Use Alabama’s new influence with the Trump administration to quickly fix the traffic congestion on Highway 280 in Jefferson and Shelby Counties.
- Election of a new U.S. Senator to replace Jeff Sessions, which would not then allow Gov. Bentley to name a new attorney general of Alabama.”If the present AG were elected to the U.S. Senate, Bentley would then name a state AG,” explained Zeigler. “The naming of a Bentley lawyer as state AG would be during a time the Bentley administration is under possible investigation. That trap can be avoided only by electing someone other than the present AG as U.S. Senator.”
- Avoid costly special sessions.
- A victory in Zeigler v. STAARS, the legal challenge to the STAARS software contract. This would allow the state a return of all or part of $47 million and a fix of a failed accounting system.
- Pass legislation allowing farms that do not abut the major rivers to access abundant water for irrigation. (Farmlands adjacent the rivers can already do this.) The Cahaba does not have sufficient flow for this access, but the Tennessee, Alabama, and Tombigbee systems do. After the drought of 2016, access to abundant water flowing through Alabama makes sense.
- Identify enough inefficiencies and mismanagement in government to afford pay raises for state employees, teachers and retirees.
- Complete the investigation of Gov. Bentley and the Bentley administration.”Sadly, this will likely have to be done by the Feds,” Zeigler conceded. “The House impeachment committee halted their proceedings at the request of Attorney General Luther Strange. Now, Strange says he never said he has an active investigation of Bentley. That leaves the Feds. I hate it when the Feds do our business for us, but it may happen again with the Bentley case.”
- Re-open the state parks needlessly closed by the Bentley administration, either under state or local control.”Our state parks do not need to be a political football used by the Bentley administration to press for their legislative agenda” Zeigler said.