State Sen. Holtzclaw: ‘Billboard has proven to be very effective, which was the intent’

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) - State Senator Bill Holtzclaw, who stands at the center of a political controversy involving Governor Robert Bentley and Madison County roads, says the billboard he posted last week has done exactly what he intended it to.

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State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R)

"The billboard has proven to be very effective, which was the intent," Holtzclaw said at a news conference Monday afternoon in Madison.

He said looks forward to reviewing Governor Robert Bentley's budget after Bentley presents it Tuesday.  However, Holtzclaw said he believes cuts can be made, first in separating the 'need-to-haves from the nice-to-haves' and also eliminating past earmarks.

"I am not ready to throw into the towel and surrender to tax increases as the way out of our perennial budget crisis," said Sen. Holtzclaw.

WHNT News 19's David Kumbroch asked Holtzclaw which earmarks he would cut.  Holtzclaw did not name any, saying he will release more specifics after he reviews Bentley's proposal.

"I'm not going to discuss any programs right now because they're in the current budget which has already been passed," Holtzclaw said.  "As soon as I get a budget proposal from the governor, I'll have more concrete things to talk about."

Some of the fireworks came after news reporters were finished asking questions.  A handful of citizens were there to press Holtzclaw as well.  One said Alabama badly needs new taxes to bring in more revenue.

"We're closing down hospitals, we're operating the court systems four days a week.. the forensics lab is underfunded. Aren't we there now?" the man asked.

"No, we're not," Holtzclaw replied.

Another citizen asked if Holtzclaw had tried other methods first, such as calling Governor Bentley, before putting up the billboard.  The man also said small business owners are losing their livelihood due to "political infighting."

Sen. Holtzclaw's billboard

Sen. Holtzclaw's billboard

The news conference comes five days after the state transportation director announced he has halting two Madison County road projects because of a billboard Senator Holtzclaw took out.

More coverage: Political analyst calls billboard and road project funding dispute political theater

The billboard on University drive says: "Governor Bentley wants to raise your taxes. I will not let that happen. Semper Fi, Senator Bill Holtzclaw."  In response, ALDOT Director John Cooper said he was stopping two road projects in Madison County: the widening of Jeff road and Highway 72.  As Cooper put it, he suspected Holtzclaw would be uncomfortable with these tax dollars being spent in his district.

As for the original debate, the Alabama Republican Party has come out against Governor Bentley's proposed tax increase.  The governor says it's the only way to pay for Alabama's massive budget shortfall.  The measure is expected to be a key point in his State of the State Address before the legislature Tuesday.