Dividing up government funds and resources can be challenging, but State Senator Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) believes investing in growing areas instead of shrinking ones would be a good start.
Now nearing the end of his first term, Elliott said he doesn't view north Alabama as competition for economic development and population like he once did.
"One of my biggest complaints is not that Huntsville is getting resources … it's rather that [the state government is] spending huge sums of money in areas that are not only not growing, but they're declining in population," Elliott said during a recent appearance on The Jeff Poor Show.
He pointed to Gov. Kay Ivey's West Alabama Corridor Project to connect Thomasville to Tuscaloosa with a four-lane road as a prime example.
"Something that was billed as a $750 million project that by all accounts should be a $1 billion-plus project," he said. "Investing in areas that are declining in growth as opposed to in areas that are really growing like Huntsville, and yes, like the Gulf Coast. We got a $3 billion bridge project that is teetering and hanging on by a thread right now… while at the same time we're spending, again, $750 million to $1 billion in west Alabama. That doesn't make any sense to me."
Still, Elliott said when it comes to the allocation of resources, Baldwin County is "holding its own."
"I think that this governor [Ivey] certainly could be more focused on resources here [in Baldwin County]. Of course, I represent here, so you would expect for me to say that," he said. "But I would like to see more resources placed in Baldwin County and even coastal Alabama as a whole."
While other districts and counties may be satisfied with spending thousands or even millions of dollars on a traffic project, Elliott said the need for his district is far greater than that.
"I see my colleagues who are, frankly, excited about the spending of several hundred thousand dollars or even several million dollars in their district … Everyone has got to realize that our needs here in Baldwin County are magnified so much that we need $100 million-worth of bridge and connecting roadway improvements in the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores area," he said.
"The asks that we have, the needs that we have are so huge," Elliott added. "They are orders of magnitude larger than a lot of these other projects. Of course, the exception to that is this west Alabama nonsense. So we need to focus where we should and understand that our needs are big. They're still big for the state to get their arms around, but they're moving in the right direction."
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