With all the news last week regarding Governor Bentley and his “improper” relationship with Rebekah Mason, I feel that the press has lost sight of the real issues with Governor Bentley and his leadership of Alabama. Governor Bentley originally ran for office stating he would not take a salary from the people of Alabama until the budget was balanced and our great state was no longer in financial ruins. He still doesn’t take a salary; however, at the end of last year Governor Bentley gave pay raises to some of his cabinet members of up to $73,000.
As a bankruptcy attorney, I counsel many state employees who have not received a raise in 5 years and they are doing all they can to make ends meet on $30,000 per year with children. These are good people who deserve at least a cost of living raise and are struggling to feed their children.
In Governor Bentley’s State of the State address in January 2016, he told the people that Alabama was the sixth poorest state in the country. The National Center for Children in Poverty reported in 2013 that Alabama had 292,737 children living below the poverty level (27% of families). Governor Bentley knowingly gave out $73,000 pay raises to individual state employees in 2015 when he obviously knew that Alabama is one of the poorest states in the country. Why… so he could keep qualified individuals on staff? A quarter of Alabama’s children may be going to bed hungry and the Governor is spending the people’s money on ridiculous pay raises. If other state employee’s cannot have a cost of living raise, how can you justify a $73,000 raise to one individual (or in this case several)?
I could care less about how Rebekah Mason is paid or what role she plays for the Governor. What I do care about are the people I see every day just trying to make ends meet and looking for help in finding a way to reduce their debt so they can feed their families, pay their house or car payments.
Governor Bentley, I don’t want an apology on what you did personally with a woman besides your wife, I want an apology on you spending our state’s money on frivolous pay raises and not doing more for families in Alabama who are living below the poverty level and for our state employees who deserve a cost of living raise. Governor Bentley, I invite you to sit in my office for a day and listen to people in Alabama who are struggling day to day to make ends meet. What can you do for them, Governor Bentley?
Mary Pool is a shareholder of the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Montgomery and Opelika, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Faulkner University’s Jones School of Law. She has represented thousands of clients over her more than 11 years working in the bankruptcy field. Read her full bio here.