Several weeks ago, I posted a letter I sent to my local State Senator. As I think I mentioned, the Senator invited me to come to his office to discuss. I respectfully declined. The Senator wrote me the following letter:
Thank you for contacting me regarding multiple issues, I regret that you were not able to meet to discuss the same. I will make an effort to briefly respond to your points. It is clear that you and I agree (and are frustrated) about many of the same issues.
The STEM compensation increase is primarily because we cannot find, hire or retain STEM teachers in public schools these days. We have across the state almost half the science, math or computer classes taught by those who are not certified in those areas, (e.g. the football coach (PE major) who teaches Biology or Algebra Il). Schools cannot compete against the private sector when it comes to these areas.
Regarding overcrowded prisons, around 2016 we had approximately 28,000 inmates in state prisons. That number has been reduced to less than 20,000 (but fluctuates around that number). This is due to the legislature passing sentencing reform. As the Senate Budget Chair, I have been plowing more money into prison education because I believe, like you, by giving inmates skills, we should reduce recidivism rates. However, like many issues, it takes time for such funding and effort to work its way into positive outcomes.
Regarding gaming (the most frustrating area), I routinely support a lottery vote of the people. Indian, Milton McGregor family and other smaller operators have enough votes to stop any simple lottery vote unless they get what they want. They want franchises that are not bid out. In other words, because they have been operating with video bingo, they want to exclude national operators from operating here or being able to bid on Alabama sites. To me, this is an insider’s sham which I cannot support. The state should be allowed to use the free market to get the highest and best offer for those wanting to operate casinos here. The homegrown crowd wants their shared monopoly and nothing less.
Regarding illegal immigration, I was the lead co-sponsor of the law which passed in 2011 that was ultimately gutted by the federal courts saying, generally, the state had no authority to act in this area that had been pre-empted by federal immigration laws. I have tried to pass a bill that required certification that all employees have been certified by the E-verify System in order to get a business license. Business lobbyists killed the bill. I have tried to get the City of Decatur to enforce its ordinances when numerous unrelated families or people are living in a single family home in a single family home zone. They have demurred. I could go on…
Regarding the deplorable state of education, I sponsored the Senate bill of the literacy act that requires children to be able to read before they are promoted from the 3rd grade. Nineteen other states have seen positive results from doing this. It brings pressure on educators to focus on struggling children instead of socially promoting them on to become functionally illiterate adults. (Studies show if you can’t read by the 3rd grade the odds are that you will never be able to.) I filed a math bill to take similar steps because (as you indicated), we are last in 4th and 8th grade math. The education establishment does not support such a bill but I am committed to trying nonetheless.
Regarding tax cuts, I have filed two bills to reduce taxes for retirees and working families. They have passed committee and are ready for a floor vote. I hope they will pass in short order because it is time to send money back to the people — particularly in these days of increased inflation. (From what I have seen, there have been very few other tax cut bills filed by other legislators, which is puzzling.)
There is much more detail I could write. I regret that you are disappointed with my representation and ability to get things done as one of 140 legislators. Nonetheless, I will soldier on and take solace in the fact that we agree on the importance of these issues.
End of letter.
Again, as I have mentioned, I live in a super majority Red State. This majority has been around for many years and Republicans still can’t get anything done. I offer this legislator’s letter not in an attempt to fault or shame, but to clarify. I appreciate the effort made to respond. I have no personal knowledge of this person and I will take the letter as a sincere effort to get things done. What is clear is the Republican Legislature of this State is unable to get substantive policy changed (e.g., education reform, stemming the tide of illegals, health care improvement, address prison recidivism, tax structure, lottery, etc.).
There are multiple scapegoats: Business, Unions, Gaming Fiefdoms.
The end result is the people continue to suffer. As I have said many times, until there is greater accountability and a functional vetting process for elected-office candidates this cycle will continue, forever.
It will continue until the ruse is no longer necessary or efficient.