Thursday, State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) offered a scathing critique of the Jobs Act during a speech on the floor of the Alabama State Senate. He later followed that up with even harsher remarks during an appearance on Huntsville radio WVNN's "The Dale Jackson Show" on Friday.

According to Orr, the Jobs Act, which is economic incentives legislation signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday, was "repugnant." Although he acknowledged the necessity of the economic incentives, Orr took issue with the tourism component, which he said could be applied retroactively and came out of the Education Trust Fund budget, which he serves as the chairman of the committee that handles that budget in the Alabama Senate.

During an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show," Orr's colleague State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) was critical of Orr's tack.

Elliott, who represents the tourism-heavy southern half of Baldwin County, called Orr's remarks "unfortunate."

"I have a lot of respect for Senator Orr," he said. "And he is easily one of the smartest guys in the upper chamber. There's no question about it. But I think he — you know, we have to be careful. We all do when we're at the mic, kind of getting carried away with wanting to win our argument so badly that we may get into a lot of hyperbole. And we may use some examples that are not exactly accurate, and I'm afraid we ran into some of that the other day as it related to the tourism incentives. I think that's unfortunate. If any of those concerns had really voiced prior to the floor, and we talked about that as we started off our conversations today — if any of those concerns had been discussed prior to the floor, I think we certainly could have addressed them. But, you know, coming to floor and simply throwing the whole program under the bus — I don't agree with that as the way to handle it. Ultimately, it didn't get changed, no matter how persuasive the argument was or not. I just think it was unfortunate it was handled that way."

Elliott's defense of tourism incentives was largely based on the claim that they ultimately pay for themselves. However, he noted the only use of the incentives came from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians with their OWA development near Foley.

"I do think the tourism incentives are an important thing," Elliott added. "You know, tourism is a huge portion of Alabama's economy. It generates hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue a year, and it is proper to incentivize it in a conservative manner. And that is exactly what we're doing with very strict limits on how much impact any incentives can have on the education budget trust fund and to make sure there is a return on the incentives that really pay for the incentives prior to it being distributed. It's money that otherwise wouldn't be there, and it pays for itself on the front end. In my mind, it's really hard to not support that. And I'm thankful for the House's leadership in getting that amendment that we worked on really hard in the House with Chairman [Danny] Garrett and Representative [Alan] Baker in getting that on, on the bill and up to the Senate. And I'm thankful for my Senate colleagues who stayed the course to keep that language in there as it was. We've always had tourism incentive language in the Jobs Act in the past. It's just only been used in one particular place, and that is where PCI was able to use it at OWA. If you've only got one place where they've been able to use it, it's probably not working like it should."

According to the Baldwin County lawmaker, because revenues generated go into the Education Trust Fund budget, it was appropriate for the financing for the incentives to come out of that budget.

Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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