Bentley’s big bad idea

Published 7:45 pm Friday, February 10, 2012

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on Wednesday proposed state budgets for next year that would use the Education Trust Fund to give a $230 million bailout to the cash-strapped General Fund, which supports prisons, courts and other non-education areas of state government.

That sounds like someone’s priorities are well out of whack.

School systems have been dealing with cuts for the past several years and heaping more upon them to support state agencies is ludicrous.

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Further, Bentley asked the Legislature to create a limited number of charter schools that would be publicly funded. Those schools would operate outside the rules and regulations of regular public schools.

In one swoop the governor is asking to cut the funding of state schools and asking for more schools to be created that would be supported by the public.

The smacks of, “Here. You handle it.”

Most states have one budget, but Alabama has separate budgets for public education and for non-education programs.

Some taxes are set aside for the education budget and others for the General Fund budget.

To Bentley’s credit, he proposed unifying the budget last month.

That was met with strong opposition so the tactic he proposed that funds one budget with monies from another essentially strong arms his original idea to the legislature.

If you want to kill prosperity in any town, city, county or state, just erode its school system and watch what happens.

You can’t spend money that isn’t there but you can’t obliterate of one of the state’s most critical resources – it’s schools – year after year either.

I have a child in public school in Alabama and in four years, I’ll have another.

I navigated my way though public school as did my wife.

I refuse to believe that the answer to education funding in Alabama lies in the private sector – charter schools.

It’s already harder than ever to find qualified teachers and when there’s virtually no job security and constant financial turmoil, who can blame them?

Thankfully, Bentley’s budget proposals are not likely to see the light of day. There’s a long line of legislators who have vowed to kill it.

If anything good has come from the proposal it’s that we now know what it takes to unify politicians in Alabama: A bad idea.


Jason Cannon is the publisher of the Demopolis Times