There’s a swamp in Washington, but I smell a rat in Montgomery. After months of keeping Alabama’s taxpayers and leadership in the dark, Governor Ivey has revealed that her $2.6 billion mega-prison plan will actually cost an extra $500 million. That’s right; the night before signing the contracts for the three-prison plan she has refused to answer questions on and attempted to ram through without the consent of the people or the legislature, Kay Ivey tried to sneak in the small fact that her dumpster-fire of a prison plan will cost our cash-strapped state half a billion dollars more than she promised.
It’s funny, I was under the impression we lived in a democracy. You know how a dictatorship works? A tyrant sits on the throne, barks orders, and whatever they say goes. Critics are silenced, questions are ignored, and the government moves in the shadows. Governor Ivey seems to have forgotten the distinction that separates our Republic from tyranny. That, or she rolled her eyes as she waltzed over it. Through unprecedented, anti-democratic executive overreach, she will torch more than $3 billion on yet another needless government expansion, whether or not her fellow Republicans stand with her.
This is not the behavior of a woman confident in her plan. If Ivey truly believed that spending billions we don’t have was in the best interest of this state, she’d share the details proudly. She’d answer the tough questions, not tuck tail and run. She’d act like a leader. Instead, she’s acting like a tyrant. You know why? Because this is a bad deal for Alabama. We’re getting swindled, plain and simple. Ivey wants to pay CoreCivic, the same corporation the Governor of Kansas said “hoodwinked” her state, $3.1 billion dollars in rent. You read that right. At the end of this 30 year deal, we’ll be billions in the hole with nothing to show for it. And it’s my generation who will be paying for her lies and negligence.
If this stunt makes you as mad as it makes me, if you believe in democracy, not tyranny, and if you believe that you have the right to know why billions of your tax dollars are being spent on three buildings we don’t need, say something about it. Here’s Ivey’s phone number: 334.242.7100. Tell her we deserve a public audit of the ADOC. Tell her we want to know the alternatives and their costs. Tell her we want this put to a vote in the legislature. Call your representatives while you’re at it. Let them know, this is not the Alabama we stand for.
David Zell is a Junior at the University of Alabama and Co-Founder of Alabama Students Against Prisons, a coalition of nearly 300 Alabama students from 28 colleges, universities, and law schools. He is a Policy Research intern at the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, a University Fellow, and a member of UA’s Blackburn Institute.