By Steve Flowers, Guest Columnist
There is no question that Governor Kay Ivey’s Infrastructure/Gas Tax Program was the cornerstone issue of this legislative session. This monumental legislation will be a tremendous enhancement for Alabama’s economic development for decades to come. Gov. Ivey and the legislative leadership deserve accolades for addressing this important project. They were indeed thinking of the next generation rather than the next election. Gov. Ivey deserves most of the credit. She reached across the aisle and garnered almost unanimous support from the democratic legislators. Indeed, the legislation passed the House on an 84-20 vote and passed 28-6 in the Senate.
However, other major issues will be on the table. The Alabama Department of Corrections is seeking a $42 million increase in their budget in order to hire much needed additional correctional officers. A federal judge has ordered the state to increase guards and mental health professionals.
State Sen. Jim McClendon of St. Clair County is listening to his constituents. Other legislators would be wise and well-served to be as diligent and in touch as McClendon. If they were they would join McClendon in offering to let their people vote on a state lottery.
There is a hue and cry from all corners of the state asking, “Why don’t we have a lottery. Why are we letting our money go to Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee?” Conservative estimates suggest a state lottery would generate between 66-to-90 million dollars in new revenues for Alabama.
Alabama is one of only five states without a state lottery. Senator McClendon will offer a proposal that would split the proceeds from a proposed lottery between the Education Trust Fund and General Fund Budgets. Believe you me, if it gets to the public for a vote it will pass. In every civic club I speak to around the state, the first question I am asked is, “Why in the world can’t we vote on and have a lottery.”
See complete story in the Pickens County Herald.