My friend Senator Arthur Orr of Decatur says it is time to debate whether or not school systems can use public money to advocate for a yea vote on school taxes.
Fair enough. I have no problem with that.
But, let’s don’t stop there Arthur.
How about we have a Rolling Reserve Act for the legislator and not just schools. Right now the act says the state education budget can only increase by 2.83 percent a year. Too bad the same doesn’t apply to the office of the Speaker of the House where annual spending has gone from $501,532 in 2009 under Seth Hammett to $962,936 in 2014 under Mike Hubbard. My Auburn math says that’s about 92 percent.
Or what about the $40,000 raise Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh gave his chief of staff in 2014. He jumped from $105,000 to $145,000 a year. Turning again to my Auburn math I see this is a 38 percent boost. So who cares if school teachers haven’t had a raise in forever. After all, they are not nearly as important as a political operative.
And let’s not forget to figure out when the duties of the State Auditor, who is now Jim Zeigler, were expanded to include filing frivolous law suits against folks like the Baldwin County school board. Here is what Zeigler says his duties are on his state web site..
Our goal is to provide accountability to the taxpayers of Alabama by maintaining accurate records of all personal property valued at $500 and above, as well as items deemed sensitive in nature. As well, the State Auditor’s office is the only check and balance between the Comptroller’s Office and the State Treasury. I take these great responsibilities seriously, and I intend to uphold the duties of the Office of State Auditor as outlined in the Code of Alabama.
I have checked the state code that pertains to duties of the state auditor and no where can I find “school tax vote police” included. But then, I guess keeping inventory is not as much fun as standing in front of a TV camera making some outlandish charge that a judge slam dunks.
And maybe while we are looking under rocks for how taxpayer money is spent, let’s check the $96,000 spent by the Speaker’s Office in 2012 for “information and research” by David Azbell. You know, the same guy who co-wrote the Speaker’s book, Storming the State House, published in the same year. Surely the good folks of Alabama were not asked to pay for an elected official’s ghost writer?
Finally, let’s go one step farther and take a look at how current House and Senate members have spent their campaign funds. You and I have talked about this before. I would really like to hear the justification for writing checks to major universities about the time football season rolls around. No, this is not taxpayer money, but it sure does reveal someone’s character.
As for me, when it comes to tax dollars I am tight as a tick. But I don’t have near as much heartburn about a school system trying to get students out of overcrowded classrooms as I am about politicians who do not demand the same level of stewardship from themselves as they do from others.