In short: With only three days left in this legislative session, the time for political infighting is over. It’s time to do something.
The Alabama Legislature has spent its past session passing the most important, if the least exciting, of bills: budgets.
Budgets may be important, but they don’t deal with the issues that Alabamians have been talking about for the past few months.
Now, with three days left in their legislative session, our leaders in Montgomery have a lot to deal with before they go back to campaigning for the rest of the year.
Bingo is the biggest issue that hasn’t been addressed. The debate over this issue has dominated newspapers and airwaves over the past few months demand a clear answer. The matter of offering a clear up-or-down vote came up and was passed by the Senate, but political maneuvering kept it from being passed by the House. Alleged threats and bribes from gambling special interest groups and the looming shadow of a federal ethics investigation have made legislators cautious about passing a bill to decisively change the bingo law.
A more important issue for UA students is the legislature’s silence on PACT issue. While legislators bicker over bingo, college students across the state are trying to figure out how they can stay in school without the help of funds promised to them by the government.
The clock is ticking for the Legislature, and it’s ticking for the future of the state’s college students. Inaction today in Montgomery will not just affect numbers on the state budget or statistics on education. It will affect the lives and futures of Alabama’s next generation.
While the debate for the next few days rages over whether or not to allow bingo in Alabama, an even more significant issue will be sitting on the table, hitherto largely ignored. Alabama is one of two states that taxes groceries and non-prescription drugs (Mississippi being the other). This tax affects lower-income Alabamians the most, since most people spend about the same amount of money on food.
A repeal of the grocery tax would lead to a more equitable taxation policy and further reduce the cost of living in Alabama. There really is no logical reason to tax people for their groceries, and the Alabama Legislature has the perfect opportunity to change this.
With three days left, our leaders in the State House need to make sure they aren’t putting everything off for next year. It’s easy to say that progress will happen eventually, easy to say that problems will work themselves out, but that’s not how things change.
The only way the bingo issue will be resolved is if the Legislature takes action. The only way students’ fears about PACT will be calmed will be if the Legislature passes a law that solves the problem. The only way the burden of a grocery tax will be eased will be if the Legislature acts on it.
Saving action for next year won’t do anything for Alabama. Taking action today will.
Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board.