Bragging about a starved state
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Nov 28, 2012 | 1501 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Speaking at a Business Council of Alabama function in August, Gov. Robert Bentley made a pledge. His intent was to cut state government spending by $1 billion, maybe even more.

Bentley said his administration had already seen $675 million in cuts. “Maybe a billion dollars is too low,” he said during remarks at the Point Clear gathering. “I think we’re going to surpass it.”

He’s on a mission to shrink government because otherwise, “there’s no stopping it, as long as you feed it.”

Bentley seemed to be channeling Edwin Starr: Government, huh, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

How’s that working out down at the grassroots? Not so swell.

As The Star reported Tuesday, the Calhoun County Courthouse is doing its best to tread water

as the budgetary cuts keep

rising. Let us emphasize that: The Calhoun County Courthouse — the place where important records are filed, where accused criminals get their day in court, where plaintiffs seek to right an alleged wrong — is in a serious financial bind.

The county clerk’s office has seen its staffing reduced by half. It’s scrapping by thanks to a combination of newfound efficiencies, temp workers and increased fees for those with business at the courthouse. Oh, and let’s forgo the sterile phrasing of “fees.” The extra money paid for traffic tickets and bail bonds, for example, feel like tax increases to those doing the paying.

Ted Hooks, the county clerk, said his office is just getting by. Had the Sept. 18 raiding of a state nest egg not been approved by voters, Hooks noted, his office and courthouses across the state would have been looking at deeper cuts and more layoffs.

By his own words, Bentley sees this as a good thing. The state had better starve this essential and necessary function of government or it will become an unwieldy beast, goes the thinking of those proud Alabama conservatives. Alabamians frustrated at wading through severely downsized state courthouses can be forgiven for not seeing it that way.
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