Same song, second verse
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Not many of you are old enough to remember a popular song of years ago which opened with the words:
"It seems to me I've heard that song before…"
That would be appropriate background music for the legislative budget hearings now under way in Montgomery. The lawmakers are hearing the same song they have heard before, and it is a frustrating melody.
The song they hear is this: Thanks to an improving economy, the Special Education Trust Fund is in great condition, so is the Highway Trust Fund which gets all the highway users taxes. But…the State General Fund, from which most state agencies are financed, is in the direst of straits.
How many times has that been the fiscal medical report of Alabama state government? More than you can count.
And as predictable as the sunrise, this boom-and-bust situation has once again renewed the call to end un-earmarking of state taxes. You surely know that story without being told. Approximately 90 cents of every dollar collected in state taxes is earmarked for a specific program.
The taxes most impacted by an improving economy or the sales and income taxes…and both are earmarked for schools. That is why the SETF is in such great shape.
All highway user taxes are earmarked for the Transportation Department, and they too have shown robust improvement.
But the leftover taxes which go to the General Fund are not impacted very much by an improving economy, thus that fund is in terrible shape.
Wouldn't it make sense to put all the taxpayers money into one big pot and fund all of state government? That is the way most states do it.
It might make sense but rest assured any attempt to unearmark taxes would provoke the Alabama Education Association to pull no punches…including nuclear weapons…to stop such a move.
After lots of talk and name-calling, the Montgomery City Council voted 8-2 to leave the monument where it is. It is of no small significance that there are four blacks on the City Council…which means that two of them voted with the white majority to leave the monument where it is.
One of them, Council member Janet May…a former local TV personality…said she had far more serious concerns facing her district than the location of a monument.
It was submitted by Congressman Craig Hosmer, a Republican from California, and with tongue in cheek it sought to answer a question posed by a young student. He wanted to know the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Some weeks ago I received a letter from a reader asking me to repeat that story. It being a slow news week, this is a good time to do it.
The difference between Republicans and Democrats? Here it is straight from the Congressional Record: "Democrats name their children after popular sports figures, politicians and entertainers…Republican children are named after their parents or grandparents, according to where the money is.
"Republicans study the financial pages of the newspapers…Democrats put them in the bottom of the bird cage.
"Democrats eat the fish they catch…Republicans hang them on the wall.
"Republican boys date Democratic girls. They plan to marry Republican girls but they feel they are entitled to a little fun first.
"Republicans consume three-fourths of the rutabagas produced in this country…the remainder is thrown out.
"And finally, Republicans sleep in twin beds…some even in separate rooms. That's why there are more Democrats."