Tuesday, February 01, 2005
On this day:

State of the State

The text of Governor Riley's State of the State address is here. It is summarized in a press release here.

In the first part of his speech, the Governor reviewed the progress that has been made in Alabama during his first term - balancing the budget by cutting spending, cutting the state work force, and closing or consoliding state agencies; making state government more open and ethical; instituting SMART budgeting practices in state agencies; addressing the rising costs of health care for state employees; and improving education by funding the Alabama Reading Initiative.

The Governor also mentioned the economic upturn that the state is now enjoying, but he was careful to give credit where credit is due:

...before we make the mistake of patting ourselves on the back, let’s remember: government does not create jobs. It only helps create the conditions that make jobs more or less likely. The real credit for our economic renewal belongs to the people of Alabama. We’ve made government their partner, but they are the ones who deserve the honors and the praise.

In that statement, the Governor summed up one of the primary philosophical differences between conservatives and liberals. It was Reaganesque...almost.

Then, Riley went into a refreshingly short list of proposals for this legislative session. Here's a summary:

Accountability in Government
  • Eliminate money transfers between PACs
  • Pass "limited home rule" for local governments
  • Institute a transportation commission that is more independent from political influence
  • Place a permanent ban on "pass-through pork"
  • Strengthen the state's open meetings law
  • Encourage the legislature to institute a code of ethics

The Budgets

  • No new taxes
  • No shift in funds from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund: education dollars pay for education only; General Fund dollars stay in the General Fund.

Accountability in Education

  • Require all school systems to be audited
  • Eliminate tenure for school administrators
  • Provide tools to reduce redundancy in higher education through improved accountability


  • "The amount of money we spend on education is important, but not nearly as important as how the money is spent."
  • Fully fund budget requests of the State Board of Education and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education
  • Provide all requested funds for textbook purchases
  • Fully fund the Alabama Reading Initiative and the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative
  • Fully fund professional development for teachers
  • Provide a 4% pay raise for teachers
  • Fund a new distance-learning program called ACCESS (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students Statewide) that will allow students and teachers to take courses via internet and/or videoconferencing that would not otherwise be easily available to them
  • Provide bonuses to teachers who volunteer to teach in schools or in subject matter areas where there are shortages
  • Support merit pay for teachers
  • Create an Alabama Commission on Teacher Quality to recommend ways to support, retain, and reward teachers
Other Budget Priorities
  • Add 100 state troopers
  • Repay the "Rainy Day Fund"
  • Maintain the level of health care provided by Medicare
  • Eliminate the backlog of state inmates in county jails
  • Increase funding for the All Kids health insurance program by almost 25 percent and thereby eliminate the waiting list for children in need of health care coverage
Moral Issues
  • "Defend the sanctity of marriage as a union between a man and a woman."
  • Oppose expansion of gambling
  • Pass a law that punishes those who commit crimes of violence against pregnant women for committing two offenses