GOP has division in the ranks

Published 4:57pm Monday, May 27, 2013

The 2013 legislative session in Montgomery has been an eye-opener for many in Alabama. This session showed the true nature of the Republican Supermajority that runs our state government.

Early in the session we got a glimpse of the Republicans’ true values when they rammed through the Accountability Act. Much has been written about the impact the Accountability Act will have on education in Alabama — how this new law abandons public schools and redirects millions of dollars away from our schools. But just as important was the way this terrible law was passed.

After both the state Senate and House of Representatives passed one version of the bill, the Republicans then changed the bill for another bill that had been negotiated in secret behind closed doors. This new bill, which was now three times longer than the original, was then sent back to both chambers where legislators had only one hour to read it and ask questions.

We still do not know how much this new voucher program will cost the state, but the budget proposed by the Republican Supermajority diverted $50 million from our schools for the vouchers. That $50 million came out of budget for every public school in the state.

Interestingly enough, since the Accountability Act passed several Republicans, including Senators Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison), have now come out and joined Democrats in calling for its repeal.

Gov. Bentley acknowledged the Accountability Act’s flaws when he tried to delay the vouchers for two years, but the Republican Supermajority in the Alabama legislature overrode his plan. But the aftermath of the Accountability Act was not the first or only time that the internal division in the Republican Party revealed itself this year.

The Republicans would again be forced to choose between the Business Council and their grassroots supporters over the Common Core curriculum debate.

While the Business Council supported the Common Core, many Republican grassroots groups fought vehemently to reject the Common Core. These grassroots groups recruited Republican legislators to sponsor resolutions denouncing and rejecting the Common Core. But in the end, the Republican Supermajority chose to ignore these Republican grassroots activists and killed these resolutions.

You expect people within organizations to have differences from time to time. But the internal fights among Alabama Republicans seem to be growing.

We’ll see if they can patch things up before the next session and the 2014 elections.

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