From the State House
The federal stimulus spending package is manna from heaven for the Alabama Legislature.
Alabama, along with every other state, is facing the bleakest and most ominous financial shortfall since the Great Depression. States like California and New York, which do not have constitutional provisions prohibiting deficit spending like we do in Alabama, are facing Armageddon
The Obama/Democratic stimulus bill will rescue legislators from a catastrophic nightmare when trying to craft a budget for the 2010 fiscal year.
Alabama's share of the federal spending plan will include $1 billion for education, $850 million for Medicaid, $525 million for roads and bridges, $60 million for transit capital grants, $20 million to fight homelessness and $7 million for immunizations. An estimated $3 billion in federal money will be poured into Alabama over the next year.
Santa Claus has indeed come to the aid of the Alabama Legislature in the form of one Uncle Sam. The stimulus package should be named the Legislative Relief and Reelection Package. Legislators have been given a lifeboat in a reelection year that appeared bleak if not devastating.
It should be noted that this windfall is one-time money and the legislators and governor who arrive on Goat Hill in January of 2011 will face a monumental dilemma in state government.
Another group that will face a dubious future are our children and grandchildren who will have to shoulder the burden of the massive debt incurred by the Obama Democratic spending bill. Ironically, it was very young voters who elected President Obama and they will be the ones saddled with the enormous debt. Let's just hope that the intent of the package, which was to stimulate the economy, will work.
It appears nothing short of a miracle will save the Jefferson County government from bankruptcy or oblivion.
The pervasive corruption in their government, mostly stemming from fraud surrounding their sewer system, has left them in ruins for decades if not generations to come.
There are two competing factions dueling over the appointments of U.S. Attorneys, Judges and U.S. Marshals. The power grab by Davis has created enemies within the Democratic ranks, which he will sorely need in the gubernatorial battle looming in next year's Democratic primary.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be contacted at www.steveflowers.us.