WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - Robert Bentley took part in his first town hall meeting as governor Monday night. He faced tough questions from the audience, on topics ranging from his appointments to budget cuts.
Governor Bentley was welcomed with applause as he stepped to the podium at the Wetumpka Civic Center. But the polite reception was in sharp contrast with some of the tough questions the governor received. One voter asked about the governor's appointment of Democrats Ron Sparks and Seth Hammett to state positions.
"I just wonder why you are appointing Democrats...especially the ones you ran against," the governor was asked.
"You'll just have to look at all of my years of service and you'll have to decide, if appointing one person overshadows all of the good things that I'm going to try to do for this state," said Bentley, in response.
But most of the questions came from state employees. Most said they didn't make a lot of money, but feel they'll take the brunt of the governor's proposed cutbacks, through furloughs and high health insurance premiums.
"Right now with the furloughs that were talked about, me and my wife, we're both state employees. That's going to cost us $488.54 with the insurance hikes as well," one employee said.
The Governor said he had not made a final determination on whether furloughs are needed.
"The budget that we've presented is to be fiscally responsible but not to be punitive, I don't want to punitive toward teachers and I don't want to be punitive to state employees," Gov. Bentley said.
The governor said he understands the frustrations, but said tough times demand tough choices.
The event was organized by the Wetumpka TEA Party.