Doug Smith For Governor of Alabama

How the Republicans Stopped Economic Growth

Two governors, Lurleen Wallace and Albert Brewer, appointed me as their chief administrative assistant to build the economic engines that pulled Alabama out of the cotton patch and into the industrial age. The engines served us well for over thirty-five years, through the administrations of both Democratic and Republican governors.

I use Median Household Income as a measurement for the changes in quality of life during the period we are concerned with, and because it is a better indicator of how families as a whole are doing than per ca pita statistics. And also the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis has kept the Median Household Income figures on the same basis for the entire time of our study. The following graph shows in startling detail what happened after the thirty-five years when Governor Riley came to office and started taking the economic machinery apart in 2002.

 

 

When the first state economic engines were built in 1967, Alabama's Median Household income was 62% of the National Median Household Income. Reading left to right on the graph, by 2002 when Riley came to power with his policy of austerity, Alabama had grown to 89% of the National Median Household Income, and the state's GDP or total output of goods and services was growing at nearly 6%.

Riley immediately started dismantling the economic machinery. He abolished the Alabama Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, gutted the Comprehensive Management Planning Office in the Alabama Development Office and dissociated the Regional Planning and Economic Development Commissions from any state plan.

Bentley and Ivey completed the wrecking job by abolishing the Alabama Development Office, separating the Department of Economic and Community Affairs from the Regional Planning and Economic Development Commissions and the ARC Local Development Districts. They also abolished the Planning, Programming and Budgeting System, replacing it with the STAR system that does not work, and in the process they kicked the constitutionally elected Auditor to the curb so he cannot do his job in the system to produce transparency and guidance.

WHAT THIS DID TO GROWTH

The above graph illustrates that our quality of life indicator went from steady improvement into decline when Riley put his policies in place. For the last decade while the Republicans controlled every constitutional office, Executive, Supreme Court (including Courts of Appeal), the Public Service Commission and both Houses of the Legislature, Alabama's GDP has averaged less than 1% per year.

There are two definitions for "depression" used by economists. One is two or more consecutive quarters of 10% or greater unemployment such as Wilcox County has suffered under this Administration. The other definition of Depression is a prolonged period of sub-trend growth.

Alabama's GDP averaging less than 1% per year for the last decade certainly qualifies as a Depression with a capital “D” since even 1% is sub-trend growth when the state is demonstrably capable of 4 to 6% GDP growth. I intend to do something about it when I am elected governor. I will start the economic engines again, and with the help of private industry, small business and the people of this state we will Make Alabama Great Again.

Posted on 27 Mar 2018, 15:35 - Category: Economics



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