Tuesday, May 20, 2008

From an e-mail

Here's what some folks are saying about yesterday's session....

Dysfunctional Senate Kills Ed Budget

Special Session Coming Soon

CLAS Legislative Update

May 20, 2008

Monday the Senate wasted an entire day as Alabama and Auburn lobbyists dug in and killed the education budget. The big universities wrote some big checks to hire lobbyist Joe Fine and even after the House added $25 million in additional appropriations and $25 million in conditional appropriations, the big universities wanted more. Even though Alabama funding for higher education is near the top of the nation, and K12 funding is near the bottom, the big universities wanted more. About 10pm Senate Rules Committee Chairman Lowell Barron tried to get a vote on the budget. After 12 hours of mindless babble by those supporting the big universities, Barron tried to call the question. They needed 18 votes to stop the filibuster and get a chance to vote on the budget—but they fell short by one vote. Those Senators who failed to vote for the budget were Beason, Bishop, Dixon, Erwin, French, Glover, Holley, Marsh, Means, Pittman, Preuitt, Singleton, Smith, and Waggoner. Four members of the Senate did not vote and in so doing doomed the Education Budget. They were Brooks, Butler, Orr and Penn. If any one of these Senators had just voted to stop the filibuster the Budget would have had a chance. It was an ugly end to an ugly session with a disappointing performance by many senators.

Almost every senator claimed he wanted a budget but when the vote was needed only 17 stepped up and voted to do their job—pass a budget. The heroes were Barron, Bedford, Benefield, Coleman, Denton, Figures, Griffith, Lindsey, T Little, Z Little, McClain, Mitchell, Mitchem, Poole, Ross, Sanders, and Smitherman. Once the vote failed to stop the filibuster, Senator Jim Preuitt took control of the microphone and threatened to have the bill read at length. This stalling tactic guaranteed the death of the budget. Preuitt then dragged the proceedings until midnight discussing trivia and those who were “unwilling to compromise”.

The last ten minutes of the session Senator Hank Sanders got a chance to make a few comments and he cut right to the heart of the matter. “I am embarrassed by the way this Senate has let down the children of our state. Higher education always threatens to kill the budget if they don’t get what they want,” Sanders explained to a gallery that had been packed all day with members of the education family. “There is arrogance in paying $44 million to a coach and then killing the entire education budget because you want another $25 million, “” Sanders chastised.

Now the Governor will have to call a special session to get the education budget, and hundreds of non tenured teachers will get pink slips this week and next.

Dr. John Draper
CLAS Executive Director
Montgomery, Alabama
800 239 3616


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