That sums up the situation surrounding Gov. Robert Bentley’s proposed budgets. He presented to the state Legislature a plan to shift money from education into the General Fund — something the night before, in his State of the State address, he indicated he would not do.
Considering their reaction, GOP legislative leaders never saw it coming.
The chairman of the Senate Education Budget Committee, Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, told the Associated Press that he met with the governor many times in preparation for the session and it never came up.
It should have. If so, Pittman could have advised the governor not to do it.
Apparently, the governor did not want to hear that. Now we are faced with a situation in which, Rep. Jim Barton, a Mobile Republican and chairman of the House General Fund Budget Committee, said the governor’s budget is “dead on arrival.”
That makes it the odds-on favorite to receive this year’s annual Shroud Award — if it ever gets far enough along the legislative path to qualify. Pittman has indicated he won’t even bother introducing it.
“It’s a bad proposal,” Pittman told the AP, “and it’s not going anywhere.”
Pittman is right. This is a bad plan. From the moment it was floated as one of the justifications for unifying Alabama’s two budgets, it was apparent that there was overwhelming bipartisan opposition to it.
The governor, however, would not let it go.
Like a bad penny, the plan kept turning up and again is on the table, where it might sabotage his entire budget. And remember, no other legislation can move forward until the budgets are passed.
There are at least two lessons to learn.
First, the governor should realize that, to govern effectively, he must consult members of the Legislature — where he used to reside — and take their advice seriously.
Second, the Legislature must confront the possibility that we have a governor who does not care what elected representatives think and is willing to charge forward with a doomed plan regardless of the consequences.
It is a “nice mess,” indeed.