Alabama has many cancers that damage its future: poor health, tepid elected leadership, substandard funding for public education. Oh, and unemployment.
That word — un-emm-ploooy-ment — is white noise for the Robert Bentley Era in Montgomery. It’s the noisy office air-conditioner you no longer notice. It’s there, constantly whirring in the background, 24 hours a day.
The only difference — and it’s a big one — is that Alabama’s unemployment rate isn’t in the background. Under Gov. Bentley’s leadership, joblessness has increased in the state during the last year. Since elected in 2010, the Tuscaloosa Republican has preached about two main topics: downsizing state government and creating jobs.
He’s done the former.
He hasn’t done the latter.
The state is worse off in both matters.
Where’s the leadership? Remember the old Wendy’s TV commercials? To steal a line, “Where’s the jobs?” While virtually every other state has rebounded to some degree from the Great Recession, Alabama has seen its economy stagnate and its economic optimism wane. On Wednesday, Bentley said during a speaking engagement in Washington County that he might call a special session after the November elections that will focus on moving money from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund in order to pay for economic incentives for new businesses.
Great idea? That’s highly debatable. But in comments to AL.com, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said he wasn’t for the idea of a special session, and House Speaker Mike Hubbard said the governor hadn’t even shown the Legislature’s leadership any proposals.
So, to recap, unemployment in Alabama (and Calhoun County, for that matter) remains high, the job-creating governor isn’t good at creating jobs, and his latest job-creating plan may involve playing a shell game with the state’s budgets. No wonder we’re in the shape we’re in.