— The Anniston Star on governor’s summertime message:
In Gov. Robert Bentley’s pocket is a two-sided coin. On one side is his version of modern-day Alabama and its spendthrift government. On the other is reality.
Bentley’s version: Unemployment is much less than it was when he took office following the 2010 election.
The other side: When compared state by state, Alabama’s rates of poverty and low-wage jobs without health insurance are embarrassingly high.
Bentley’s version: Spending sprees in Montgomery have been cast aside in favor of frugal budgets and smart budgeting.
The other side: Overwhelming cuts to state budgets have either closed or greatly reduced the effectiveness of many state agencies.
Bentley’s version: His administration’s blowback against the Affordable Care Act is grounded in the belief that Washington shouldn't have a say in the doctor-patient relationship.
The other side: His administration’s refusal to expand Medicaid and take advantage of the fiscal benefits of that expansion leaves money on Alabama's table — money the state could sorely use.
Bentley’s version: Raising taxes on Alabamians — any taxes, anything at all — is a failed policy.
The other side: The reluctance of Bentley, along with the Republican-led Legislature, to even consider modest increases in minor areas — such as on tobacco sales — hamstrings Alabama’s government and its state agencies even more. The missed opportunities are immense.
Even the most conservative, small-government Alabamians should expect their government to be a helpful nuisance. Instead, Bentley’s version of Alabama is all about making Alabama smaller, making Alabama government less useful, making Alabama less interested in the health and welfare of those who live here.
That’s the message the governor is spreading this summer.