Alabama’s next governor won’t take a salary, just as the incumbent has taken none for the last four years, but the chief executive’s transportation could change.
Democrat Parker Griffith said Monday he will give up his salary if elected governor and will redirect four years’ worth of salary, about $451,580, to public education.
Republican incumbent Robert Bentley was elected in 2010 on a campaign promise of not taking a salary until Alabama’s unemployment dropped to a normal rate of 5.2 percent. It’s not there yet, and Bentley has promised to maintain his stance in a second term. Alabama’s most recent unemployment rate was 7.0 percent.
Griffith said Monday in Huntsville that if elected Nov. 4, he will sell the state plane and helicopter used by Bentley. “Governor Bentley is living it up on the taxpayers’ dime, jetting from Montgomery to Birmingham by private plane or helicopter 80 times and Tuscaloosa 116 times. Normal people drive to those locations and one can easily get to both of those places by car in an hour or so,” Griffith said.
Montgomery is about 90 miles from Birmingham and 105 miles from Tuscaloosa.
Bentley’s campaign spokeswoman, Rebekah Mason, said, “Governor Bentley uses state aircraft as necessary to fulfill the duties of being governor, to meet with people outside of Montgomery in order to understand local issues, and to welcome new business and industry by attending numerous job announcements that have come about as a result of his hard work since being elected.” She said he also uses the aircraft to respond to natural disasters.
Griffith said selling the state’s Bell Jet Ranger helicopter and Beech King Air 200 plane could generate $1.4 million to $1.9 million. He proposed using part of the proceeds to pay for a state referendum that would be necessary to legalize a state lottery that he advocates. He would use the remainder to benefit public education.
Griffith is trying to pull off an upset in a state where Republicans hold all offices elected statewide. On their last campaign finance reports, Bentley had $3.2 million on hand and Griffith $25,050.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.