“Best and Worst Week in Montgomery” is a weekly feature on Yellowhammer Politics in which we recognize the people or organizations who had the BEST week or WORST week in town. You can view last week’s edition here. If you would like to nominate someone for this feature in the future, send us an email through our contact page.
The skyrocketing cost of benefits continues to eat into state funding for education. This year alone, Alabama will pay more than $1 BILLION out of the state budgets to pay for retirement costs. In spite of the state’s dire financial situation, Chairman Love put together a budget that makes the most of the available resources. His budget provides $300 for every classroom teacher to spend on supplies or materials and provides a $5,000 bonus to teachers that are certified by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. It also funds innovative programs like the Alabama Reading Initiative, the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative, ACCESS Distance Learning and First Class Pre-K.
But Chairman Love’s most important contributions this week were largely behind-the-scenes as a conferee during tense budget negotiations. There is a $200mm shortfall in the general fund. Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford, were angling to fully fund the Medicaid entitlement program rather than the already underfunded prison system. Bedford’s plan would have caused thousands of criminals to be released out onto the streets. Politically Bedford was maneuvering to force Republicans into two bad votes: 1. a vote to release prisoners, and 2. a vote to raise taxes if a proposed constitutional amendment to borrow money from the Alabama Trust Fund to cover the deficit didn’t pass.
Love, General Fund Chairman Barton, Leadership and the Governor’s Office came up with a good-government solution to the crisis by spreading cuts out across all agencies. Instead of decimating one agency or program, every agency will just tighten their belt a little to get through the lean times. Love took the lead and his fellow legislators were impressed with his willingness to stand up for conservative principles against Bedford & co. “Jay was the House hero last night,” said one legislator. “He really delivered under pressure.”
For consistently coming through in the clutch, Jay Love had the best week in Montgomery.
Tweaks to Alabama’s toughest-in-the-nation immigration law have been one of the 2012 regular session’s most contentious issues. Democrat Senator Bill Beasley offered a bill this week that would have repealed HB56. Once it failed, the open borders advocates had nothing left to root for. However, that didn’t stop them from jamming up the halls of the State House and loudly singing and chanting. A few protestors who were bent on getting some press coverage (the Montgomery Advertiser obliged, of course) blocked the entrances to the House and Senate floors and were detained and escorted out. In the end, HB 658 (which combined Beason & Hammon tweaks) passed on the final day of the session.
Rumors were flying the morning after Sine Die about whether or not Gov. Bentley would veto HB 658. But the illegal immigration supporters lose either way. If the Governor vetoed HB 658, the original law would still be in place. But Sen. Beason and Rep. Hammond both submitted immigration bills for the special session, just in case.
For STILL not understanding the denotation of “illegal,” and for being completely oblivious to the fact they had lost…again… Illegal Immigration Advocates had the Worst Week in Montgomery.