By Cokie Thompson, WVUA 23 Staff

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Robert Bentley says lawmakers will have to come up with the funding to reopen 31 rural driver’s license offices that were closed due to budget cuts.

Bentley said he has sympathy for the affected areas, but lawmakers chose this when they rejected tax increases.

The closures have come under fire from critics who questioned if they were necessary and because they are in areas with minority populations.

Bentley also said he’s talking to lawmakers about reopening some of those offices.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency announced the closures last month to better staff existing offices. An ALEA spokeswoman said last week that travel to the rural offices costs $100,000 annually.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell asked for an investigation into the closings. Bentley responded last week, calling her allegations incorrect and impulsive.

Bentley met with Rev. Jesse Jackson last week to discuss Jackson’s concern over the closings. Jackson said the closing of the offices was wrong.

“This is punishment … punishment politics upon the poor,” Jackson said.

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