State Auditor Jim Zeigler issued an announcement this morning in which he said the looming combination of budget cuts and tax increases the Gov. Robert Bentley and the Legislature will mull unfairly burden “the little guys.”
Zeigler put out a list of possible reductions in the governor’s budget proposal, which Bentley says may be necessary should the executive and legislative branches again fail to reach a deal to backfill a $250 million shortfall currently projected in next year’s budget.
Included are cuts to state parks, most drivers license officers, Medicaid for indigent Alabamians, the elimination of some 99 state troopers, and reductions in state hunting and fishing services.
Zeigler took umbrage that highly visible public services max face the ax while administrative costs incurred by the governor himself and his staff are not on the chopping block.
“It is obvious that the Bentley advisers are targeting cuts on the little guy but none on higher-up politicos. And none on the Governor’s office itself,” Zeigler said Tuesday. “This is an obvious strategy to get citizens concerned about the cuts to pressure the legislature to pass the Bentley tax package.”
“My prediction is it will not work. Just ask voters in Baldwin, Lawrence, Colbert and Jackson Counties and in the City of Athens. They all voted down tax increases by wide margins in the past six months,” said Zeigler noting the recent local resurgence of anti-tax sentiment that had abated somewhat amid the economic recovery.
Zeigler noted the absence of proposed cuts to items like the following:
“The Governor’s fleet of airplanes and helicopters and their frequent use? The Governor’s entourage he carries around with him and their large costs, including over-time? The number of state vehicles issued to officials who do not need them for after-hours duty? The high-priced SUVs and other luxury vehicles? The ultra-high salaries of some officials?” read Zeigler’s extended rhetorical question. “No. No cuts threatened to the Governor’s staff and to politicos.”
“The Bentley advisers are not listening to the citizens; they only listen to Montgomery insiders,” Zeigler continued.
The Special Session begins this evening at 5 p.m. at the state Capitol Building in Montgomery.