The regular session of the Alabama Legislature is over and some folks in our state are looking at the lack of a General Fund budget as a failure of the legislative branch of government. Keep in mind that the Legislature, in passing a General Fund budget, fulfilled its constitutional responsibility, but the passed budget was vetoed by the governor.
The Legislative Session should be seen as a victory for responsible budgeting, fiscal responsibility, and economic viability for Alabama. Conservative members of the Legislature held the line on tax increases and should be commended for doing so. (There was the hiccup of allowing hundreds of state fees to be raised considerably by bureaucrats, but that is a discussion for another day.)
While groups such as the Alabama Free Market Alliance worked to inform the residents of the state about what was happening in Montgomery, the real reason behind the Legislature not passing taxes increases was that the people let their voices be heard.
The old adage that the squeaky wheel gets the grease is very true in politics. An elected official who only hears from one side of the debate begins to believe that the other side must not care very much, and it gets easier to vote the way of the squeaky wheel. Entities that live off government, including the beneficiaries of corporate welfare, squeak loudly. Many times taxpayers focus on their lives and just hope for the best. This spring taxpayers spoke up some and good legislators held the line.
Taxpayers have more work to do. A Special Session will likely take place this summer.
The proper philosophy of budgeting is to prioritize spending according to money the state has. Unfortunately, the bigger-government crowd has a philosophy of budgeting that decides what they want to do and then set out to forcibly extract enough money from the people to pay for their wish list. Which philosophy does your legislator believe in?
Let’s enjoy a brief victory, and let our conservative legislators know how much we appreciate them holding the line on taxes. Let’s hope other legislators will join the conservatives and do the budget reforms that Alabama needs: abandon earmarks, unify the budgets, and prioritize spending.
A little more squeezing might actually foster a big win later this summer.
Scott Beason is senior policy adviser at the Alabama Free Market Alliance.