We hear of the impact of proration on our schools. (Kelly, my wife, lost her middle-school math teaching position in the first round of proration.) However, the budget cuts greatly affect other basic and essential services, such as, law enforcement, prisons, child protective services, and probation and parole.
Joe McAdory, in this Opelika-Auburn article, details how the state’s budget woes are affecting our local court system in Lee County.
There are no merit pay raises. A hiring freeze has been imposed. Travel expenses have been limited to a bare minimum. Paychecks are made via direct deposit to save paper and postage. Even Post-It notes were briefly eliminated.
Alabama’s judicial system faces massive financial restrictions as its proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 drops from $164.6 million to $128.9 million, and Lee County’s T.K. Davis Justice Center is not immune — from the courts all the way to the district attorney’s office. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is not affected.
In addition to the court system, the article details also how local law enforcement, as well, is impacted.
Financial restraints don’t make things any easier for prosecution in Lee County. District Attorney Nick Abbett reported the local DA office was provided $631,630.99 in state funding in 2009, but only $607,501 in 2010. And what about 2011?
Across the state, similar stories are being reported. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Autauga County will be without a district judge indefinitely because of budget woes.
Fiscal responsibility, with an eye to the future, is more important today than ever. The offices described in this article are essential; however, I believe we all sense a great bit of waste and redundancy within our government. We should renew our commitment to ferreting out and removing ineffective and redundant positions first.
Our leaders must have the ability to prioritize. Priority should be given to those front-line public servants: the teachers, the assistant clerks, the road crews, the probation officers, and the peace officers. However, those offices and positions which cannot justify their existence must be the first to be cut.
Leadership has been described as seeing further down the road than those around you. We need leadership from District 13 in Montgomery that will pursue cuts in a wise manner.