Tim James wants to help small businesses

Published 8:20 pm Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Republican candidate for Alabama governor Tim James shot through Clanton last Friday on his “Common Sense Express” bus tour. He sat down to discuss his policies and plans for the state if he’s elected.

As the unemployment rate remains at 10 to 11 percent in Chilton County and 9 to 10 percent in Alabama, James said his administration would create an environment that the private sector can flourish in.

“What have to do is we have to realize it’s not government that creates jobs, it’s the private sector,” he said. “It’s the people who are willing to take risks, risk capital and take chances. We have to keep taxes low. I’ll veto any new taxes on the working men and women of Alabama.”

James’ controversial television campaign advertisements stress his status as a “businessman,” a role he thinks reassures people about how their tax dollars are handled.

“Business people are accustomed to balancing budgets,” James said. “They have to make payrolls. They’re under the stresses that you live under in the real world. If you’re intertwined in the government, you’re not. I think most of us would agree today, given the irresponsibility of the budgetary process, that we could make a case to put a lot of business people in office from top to bottom.”

James wants to give Alabama small businesses the same economic development incentives enjoyed by out-of-state companies. Taking the lead from Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia, he wants to set the state’s sights back on the smaller businessmen and women instead of global expansion.

“Bob Riley did a great job, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “We had a great ride of global expansion, and they met that niche. It’s different now. You don’t have global expansion. Sometimes, it’s a game of survival. Survival is a victory. It’s also a function of pure fairness. Of course, you ought to give Alabama companies the same shots we give out-of-state companies. It’s just fair.”

Several high profile criminal cases have brought to light serious ethics violations in Alabama, causing citizens to question what the state can do to restore the public’s trust and confidence in its elected officials. James feels a need for more transparency whenever any amount of money is exchanged.

“We need to end this business of PAC-to-PAC transfers,” he said. “Everybody’s guilty of taking PAC money. In my campaign, I’ve accepted about $150,000. [Republican candidate for governor] Bradley Byrne has accepted $1.5 million. It’s time to end it so that every time a contribution is given, it has a name by it. Openness is all we’re talking about.”

James has caught flak from some in the national media, including the New York Times and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, for his campaign ad suggesting state driver’s license exams should only be given in English. His plan is to strictly adhere to the state constitution, which declares English as the state’s official language.

“We’re kind of going to our elbow to get to our knee,” he said. “The bottom line of this is the people of Alabama spoke. The constitutional amendment says we’re an English-only state, which means services are given in English. This is just political correctness over the top. We just raised this as a point of how absurd we’ve gotten. Language assimilation is absolutely essential to economic development.

“Non-English-speaking people earn one-third to one-half less than their English-speaking counterparts. We have about $65 billion a year in lost revenue due to language dissimilation, so there’s just no merit to any of these arguments, and this is an example of government silliness and absurdness.”

James isn’t interested in a broad state constitutional reform, though he wouldn’t be opposed to a meticulous article-by-article clean-up.

Alabama’s constitution is the longest document of its kind in the world, some 12 times longer than the average state constitution.

James simply doesn’t think the reform is necessary.

“I’ve been in business in this state 25 years, and I cannot tell you if I’ve ever had anybody tell me that the constitution has affected their business one way or the other,” James said. “I do not favor a constitutional convention. That would be a mistake. However, if you were just going to tidy it up, you could do it by an article-by-article basis. Let the legislature do it, and let the people vote on each article just like we did judicial articles back in the 1970s.”