Riley doesn't have a chance against AEA
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–The current session of the Alabama Legislature has already reached the name-calling stage.
As one after another of Gov. Bob Riley's accountability bills are killed or put in the deep freeze, the Democratic leadership is blaming him for not making any effort to talk to them about his legislation. Riley's response–what good would it do?
Both sides are right. Riley has appeared to make little or no effort to sell his legislation to the Democratic-controlled House and Senate but one has to wonder how far he would have gotten if he had tried.
The word "accountability" has to Democrats come to mean increased contributions by teachers and state employees for their health insurance and retirement benefits…it has come to mean that those same people would have to work more years to qualify for full retirement…and it means an end to the costly DROP retirement plan which threatens to cost the state untold millions of dollars in the future.
Be sure the almighty Alabama Education Association and its leader, Dr. Paul Hubbert, is not going to allow any of this legislation to see the light of day.
In fact it was for this reason that Republican Party Chairman Marty Connors last week announced that the GOP was "declaring war" on Hubbert and the AEA.
This threat of war did not cause Hubbert to lose any sleep. He didn't rush to the pharmacy to buy some Sominex. For Connors to ask for a political showdown with Hubbert is like a man armed with a cap pistol looking for a fight with another who has weapons of mass destruction. David beat Goliath, but he had some help from on high.
So what to expect from this session? With no cutbacks in spending the only alternative should be obvious if the budget shortfall is to be made up–higher taxes, but none that the people will have a shot of rejecting at the polls. Beer, cigarets, liquor, perhaps soft drinks…maybe a lottery…and the worst prospect of all, a boost in the sales tax.
A legislative session seldom is held where there is not a bill to abolish the Auditor's office but a stronger case can be made that it makes better sense to abolish the Department of Examiners and give its responsibities to the Auditor.
The Auditor is elected by the people and answerable to them, the Department of Examers is a creature of the Legislature and answerable only to them. Some critics have suggested this is sort of like that the fox being employed to guard the hen house.
AU officials revealed that Lowder had made a whopping $4.2 million contribution to the university's Athletic Department to be used to build an academic center which to provide tutoring and academic support for student-athletes. It is the largest single contribution ever made to the Athletic Department.
The most recent numbers show 62 percent of the senior student-athletes at Auburn earned their degrees. That matches the six-year national average of NCAA-member schools.
But without knowing who the new AG may be, it is safe to say Riley picked the one who he considered most electable in 2006. The Republicans have owned this office since 1994 and they don't want to give it up.
A sidebar to this: If you think the line was long for the AG appointment, way until you see the line of hopefuls for the office of Supreme Court chief justice in the event Roy Moore loses his appeal.