Critics have called this "tax and spend" liberal policies, but the truth of the matter is that we have to dig our way out of years of debt from Republicans' "borrow and spend" practices.
Just to remain solvent, we need $265 million added to our state budget. To pay back money we've borrowed, we need a total of $700 million.
This is no different than our household budgets; the numbers are just bigger. Just like in our own homes and businesses, the money coming in has to be equal to or greater than the money going out. Right now, it's not even close.
And since nobody in the state of Alabama has figured out how to grow money on trees or turn rocks into gold, we have to find a way to bring this money into our state government, or risk cutting more state programs.
In a meeting last week, Governor Bentley outlined what deeper state budget cuts would look like: approximately 17,000 children will lose access to subsidized child care, 30,000 children will lose food stamps, 600 court employees across Alabama will lose their jobs, 14,000 Alabamians with mental illness will lose therapy sessions, 1,100 services for residents with intellectual disabilities will end; veterans service centers will continue to close around the state, and 15 of the state's 22 parks will close.
While "no new taxes" sounds great during campaign season, there are real families depending on these budget items. It's clear we can't cut our way out of this problem.
That's why my fellow Democrats and I have offered plans to generate state revenue without putting the burden on the backs of working families. By raising revenue through voluntary measures, like a lottery and tobacco taxes, we can tax only those who choose to participate in the taxed activity, rather than putting the burden onto all families across Alabama.
The money has to come from somewhere, and even prominent Republicans like Governor Bentley and Rep. Steve Clouse, the chairman of the General Fund budget committee, know we have to find it.
So the question stands: would you rather have the Democrats' lottery or the Republicans' taxes?