They say there’s nothing new under the sun, and that certainly seems to be the case when it comes to proposed budget cuts to state auditor’s office.
On Monday, the full State Senate is expected to consider the general fund budget (SB157) and in it is a whopping cut of 47% to the state auditor’s office.
The budget of the State Auditor is currently $968,433. SB157 cuts the budget nearly in half to $500,000.
“The budget figure of $500,000 now listed for the state auditor in SB 157 is a completely arbitrary number with no basis whatever,” stated Zeigler. “A $500,000 appropriation would make the property inventory process inoperative. Each year, $200,000 in cost goes to software and support for the inventory, so we would be left with insufficient funds for our six staffers, rent and other basic costs.
HISTORY OF CUTS
This marks the fifth- time Zeigler has faced cuts to his budget. His operating budget has been cut over the last four years after it was first slashed by 28.5% when he took office in 2015, under former-Gov. Robert Bentley’s administration forcing his staff to be cut in half.
Zeigler’s perennial budget cuts is far from the first action seemingly taken against the State Auditor. In 2018 Zeigler received written notice from Legislative Council informing him that he is being kicked out of the Alabama State House. The auditor’s offices had been in the State House since July of 2007. Then in 2019, parking spaces in Montgomery were revoked for him and his staff.
RETALIATION OR NECESSARY CUTS?
Zeigler speculates these budget cuts continue to come his way because he has a history of activism and being an outspoken state auditor.
He filed the initial ethics complaint against then-governor Bentley in 2016. The ethics commission found Bentley in violation, and five days later, Bentley resigned.
Zeigler’s wife Jackie was State Chair of “Vote No on Amendment One’ in the March 3rd primary. The amendment would have abolished the people’s right to vote on the state board of education members and made them all appointed by the governor. The measure was defeated 75% to 25% after passing the legislature almost unanimously.
Zeigler led a successful citizens’ movement last year that blocked a toll bridge on I-10 over Mobile Bay.
“Because the state auditor was the only office slashed, it shows that I have been targeted. This is retribution for my work on behalf of taxpayers,” Zeigler added.
Zeigler was re-elected in November 2018 for a second and final four-year term. He is now term-limited.