If pressed, Alabama political junkies will remember reading “according to Joyce Bigbee, Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office director” before a written analysis of what a particular piece of legislation might cost the state.
Bigbee headed the office that provides Alabama’s legislators with information on the fiscal impact their proposals might have on the people they represented.
Legislators ignored her at their peril.
Few offices in state government have been run more efficiently, have been so resolutely nonpartisan, and have been so helpful to other officials and agencies than the Legislative Fiscal Office.
Now, after 33 years in that office, and 24 years as its director, Bigbee is retiring.
Bigbee, according to Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, “built a team that is second-to-none and they set a shining example of top-notch expertise and professionalism.” House Speaker Mike Hubbard echoed those sentiments and added that she and her team were “always focused on making sure lawmakers know the facts about our state’s fiscal situation.”
Of course, who could blame anyone associated with the state’s finances from either retiring or looking for another place of employment? The recession has roiled Alabama’s fiscal health. And decisions by the Legislature’s new Republican majority have been an overdose of cutbacks and layoffs of virtually every state agency and department.
At times, lawmakers with their own political agendas and optimism born more of hope than reality have acted as if the evidence Bigbee presented could be ignored. When they did, disaster — often in the form of revenue shortfalls and proration — generally followed. But no one could blame Bigbee. She was just the messenger.
Recently, the fiscal news Bigbee delivered has not been good. That is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. The state’s economy is still struggling. The GOP-led Legislature isn’t likely to change its fiscal stance, either. She may be picking a good time to move on.
We wish her well and hope the state will find someone equally competent to replace her, if that is possible.