You’d expect it from Democrats in the Alabama Senate – they’ve never met a state-run operation they did not want to preserve.
But Republicans in the Alabama Senate? Last time I checked, Republicans campaigned on a platform of limited, efficient, right-sized government.
Yet it was Clyde Chambliss, Steve Livingston, Jabo Waggoner and Cam Ward who joined the Democrats and voted to keep Alabama in the retail liquor business. The bipartisan big-government alliance gave S.B. 115 an unfavorable report by a vote of 6-7 in the Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee. Republican Sens. Arthur Orr, Bill Holtzclaw, Tim Melson, Trip Pittman, Paul Sanford and Larry Stutts supported the legislation.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board pulled out all the stops to keep the state-run liquor stores under their control. They made every argument, from the bill causing drunks to roam the streets to the high “cost” of eliminating around 600 state jobs.
That’s right. The ABC wanted legislators to think that reducing the number of state employees would cost money. Sure … if you simply ignore the massive savings that result from not having to pay salary and benefits to that many employees in the coming years.
More importantly, Alabama already has three times as many private retail stores as state-run stores. If we were going to see the massive negative social impacts of privatization, we would already be experiencing them.
We are not.
The legislation considered in the Senate simply closed the state-run retail stores and, as a result, ended the leases for the ABC retail stores.
Ah, wait a minute. Those leases.
A taxpayer-funded lease with the State of Alabama sounds like a pretty stable financial gig if you can get it. I wonder if any of those property owners had any influence on keeping Alabama right in the middle of the liquor business?
Cronyism in Alabama politics? Nah, no way.
Here’s the bigger problem. Conservatives in Alabama need to start calling it like they see it. Whether it’s Gov. Robert Bentley’s tax plan or the four Republicans who voted against the opportunity to shrink government and limit its control over our lives, the truth is that plenty of our politicians aren’t giving us what we thought we were getting when we voted for them.
That does not mean they are bad people or that they don’t have other good ideas. Cam Ward, for example, has done a tremendous job trying to reform our state prisons.
It does mean that we need to call them out and help them understand that we know the difference between limited government and lip service.