Grover Norquist's no tax pledge has been an absolute disaster at the national level, now it's biting Gov. Bentley in the behind as Alabama struggles with a big budget deficit and the lowest taxes in the nation.
We've got trouble, folks -- deficit trouble -- right here in
River City Montgomery!
River City faces a terrible deficit, and if we don't cut spending on the things We, the People do for each other right now, there will be trouble. We gotta do some austerity! We gotta eat that seed corn. We gotta stop taxing the 1% and stop paying for things the 99% need!
The state of Alabama is $188 million short of meeting its general fund obligations, but Gov. Bentley won't entertain any kind of tax increase to balance our budget. Instead, he is forcing massive cuts to already bare bones state services. That's like being unable to balance your family budget and refusing to ask for a pay raise or take on a second job to make ends meet ... instead asking the family to give up health care, transportation, a roof over their heads and even food. All because you signed a pledge to Grover Norquist saying you'll never look at raising revenue to solve a budget crisis.
It's an insane way to to run a state, and no less a bastion of conservatism than the Birmingham News is taking Bentley to task for putting his pledge to Norquist ahead of his fiscal responsibility to the state of Alabama.
Vowing not to increase taxes in Alabama at a time like this is nothing but demagoguing to voters. It is hardly leadership.
If the governor were interested in leading rather than political pandering, he would propose a real tax increase with the twin goals of raising revenue for state government and righting an immoral, upside-down Alabama tax system.
The only taxpayers Bentley is protecting with Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge are the wealthiest Alabamians. Most Alabama families would see their tax burden decrease if the state sales tax on groceries and over-the-counter drugs went away.
As for his finance director's idea to raise fees, not taxes, because "nothing is off the table, but tax increases," the News also called that out for the
hogwash eyewash it is.
A fee increase has exactly the same effect a tax increase does: It raises revenue for government. If the point of a no-new-taxes pledge is to keep government small, why would a governor who took the pledge support any new revenue?
Voters in Alabama, for good or ill, elected Robert Bentley as governor, not Grover Norquist. It's about time Bentley grew a backbone and admiedt that his pledge to St. Grover was a ridiculous political gimmick intended to garner votes, not a serious expression of his philosophy of governance. If the $180 million general fund proration this year doesn't make Bentley see reality, we can only hope looking ahead to the even more disastrous 2013 shortfall will shock some sense into him.