Failure of Republican agenda is success for Alabama familiesPublished 6:00am Saturday, June 9, 2012
The 2012 legislative session recently ended and the leaders of the Republican supermajority are calling it an unqualified success.
It is a little confusing why they would think that, given that most of their signature legislation was soundly defeated.
Yet, those defeats are good news for Alabama’s working families.
The Republican supermajority’s priorities this year had little to do with helping schools or putting people back to work.
Their focus was on raiding the state treasury for corporate benefactors and providing favors to special interests.
Take, for example, the Republicans’ signature legislation regarding education: charter schools.
Representatives of for-profit corporations running charters nationwide wrote the bill the Republicans introduced in the Legislature. When you get a bill written by special interests for special interests, you know it is trouble.
Charter schools have no record or statistics showing that they do a better job than public schools.
In fact, the largest national study that has been conducted on charter schools showed that charters have a lower performance overall.
In places like Florida — where for-profit charters run rampant — funds have been taken from public schools for these charters, while scandals grow and education suffers.
Once again this year, House and Senate Democrats pushed back. We knew that our public schools should be supported, not attacked.
We knew that the charter effort was all about money, not about children. In the end, the for-profit charter legislation went down in flames.
But Republican leaders are already promising to bring this disastrous bill back next year.
Democrats know a strong education system is key for long-term economic growth and job creation.
We also know from past experience that when we invest in Alabama schools, we get remarkable returns.
Since coming to power, the Republican supermajority has taken the opposite position.
For a second straight year, the Republicans have needlessly cut school funding and resources.
The Republicans passed an education budget that cuts $90 million from our schools, even though recent reports in the news say that the state’s tax collections for the Education Trust Fund have increased.
Instead of working toward more investment in schools, the Republican supermajority spent their time trying to give away the Education Trust Fund through special tax breaks and giveaways engineered by lobbyists.
These Republican bills would have taken more than $500 million away from our schools, and did not guarantee one new job in exchange.
Fortunately, most of these special interests bills were defeated with opposition of Democrats.
This year’s legislative session clearly showed the difference between Republicans’ priorities and Democrats’ priorities.
The Republican agenda attempted to rob our schools to pay for tax breaks for corporations. Fortunately, their agenda failed despite their supermajority in the legislature.
The Republicans are now trying to save face by calling this year’s legislative session a success. On this we can agree.
The Republicans’ agenda for Alabama would have been a disaster for Alabama’s families.
The Republicans’ failure is a success for Alabama’s working families and school children.
Johnny Mack Morrow is a state representative for Franklin County. His column appears each week.