Letters to the Editor 10-15-2003

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

Reader says he's answering the challenge to put up or shut up

Dear Editor:

I just read your editorial entitled "Put up or shut up" in the Wednesday, October 1, 2003 edition of the Andalusia Star-News.

Okay, I will put UP instead of shutting up! If Covington County had an outstanding Senator like Hank Sanders in Selma, we wouldn't have any financial problems here. At the Second Special Session of the Alabama Legislature which just ended, Senator Sanders either sponsored or co-sponsored 22 of the 23 Senate bills which took money from the Education Trust Fund and gave away which

subsequently were signed into law by Governor Riley. 20 of the Senate Bills he sponsored decided how OUR Education Trust Fund Money should be spent. Two were of direct benefit to Dallas County recipients.

Listed below is some of bills which Senator Sanders propagated and now is the "law of the land":

1. Senate Bill (SB) 86 took $77,233 out of the Education Trust Fund and gave to the following recipients:

Birmingham Civil Rights Museum $29,705; Constitutional Village, Madison County $29,705 and National Voting Rights Museum in Selma $17,823.

2. SB 94 took $1,188 out of the Education Trust Fund and gave it to Macon County YMCA for a "tutorial program."

3. SB 91 took $17,823 out of the Education Trust Fund and gave it to Alabama Sports Festival "for the support and maintenance of a program providing academic scholarships and promoting Olympic-style competition."

4. SB 89 took $27,513 out of the Education Trust Fund and gave it to the Central Alabama Opportunities Industrialization Center in Montgomery.

5. SB 88 took $7,919 out of the Education Trust Fund and gave to the following recipients: $3,760 to Adam Bishop Center, Walker County and $4,159 to Children's Village, Inc, Jefferson County.

6. SB 85 took $19,172 out of the Education Trust Fund and gave it to the Alabama League for the Advancement of Education in Montgomery.

7. SB 63 took $242,504 out of the Education Trust Fund and gave it to Talladega College, a private school.

8. SB 97 Took $334,166 out of the Education Trust Fund and gave to the following recipients: Children's Theatre of Birmingham $47,528; Children's Hands on Museum, Tuscaloosa County $77,233; Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center $74,262; McWane Center, Jefferson County $74,262; Humanities Foundation $37,131; and North Alabama Science Center $23,750.

9. SB 3 only makes you happy if you are on the Board of Registrars in Dallas County. "Each member of the Dallas County Board of Registrars shall be entitle to receive an additional expense allowance of twenty dollars ($20) per day for each day when the board is authorized to meet and conduct business.

The expense allowance provided for in this act shall be retroactive to April 1, 2000." A nice pleasant bill if you happen to be one of the Dallas County Registrars. That is something like 3 1/2 years of back expense money, which I think is classified as "non-taxable".

10. SB 7 makes you happy if you are the Judge of Probate in Dallas County. "The Judge of Probate of Dallas County, in addition to the salary authorized by law, shall receive a salary supplement in the amount of seven thousand two hundred dollars ($7,200) per year."

Isn't that a $600 a month raise in pay?

11. I shall not address each and every one of the 22 bills sponsored or co-sponsored by Senator Sanders, but each and every one of them took money out of the Education Trust Fund and gave it away; certainly not K-12 education.

Then, without the sponsorship of Senator Sanders, Senator Penn sponsored SB 59 which took $2,363,200 out of the Education Trust Fund and gave it to Tuskegee Institute, another private college.

The above represents only 11 of the 23 bills generated by the Senate which doles out Education Trust Fund money. If my math serves me correctly, just the above bills total $3,090,718 stolen from the Education Trust Fund! If you want to view all of this information on the internet; enter the State of Alabama Legislature's website.

Now, just how many K-12 books could you purchase with all this "pork" being handed out with your Tax Money! I will not deal with funding of State Troopers since that is monies out of the General Fund, but there is one big ticket item in the General Fund which is Medicaid that is crushing the State's budget. Between State and Federal Funding there is about four billion dollars ($4,000,000,000) for Medicaid in Alabama. Just say there are about 4,000,000 people in Alabama. That makes total Government spending at $1,000 per man, woman and child! Of course not everybody "qualifies" for Medicaid.

Your income is the primary consideration for free medical care and that criteria is established by the State. It is easy to make "too much money to qualify."

On the bright side of all special Senate Bills, Senator Holley did not sponsor a bill which would have directly benefited his district. But he did vote "yes" in 33 out of 34 bills passed directly by the Senate. He was absent for one of the roll call votes.

In all fairness to Senator Holley, he was certainly not the only Senator to "go along." The late Senator Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House in Washington who held that office longer than any man in history and who died in office, was quoted: "To get along, you got to go along." That seems to be the way the State Legislature works also.

I, along with many others have heard the rhetoric about more taxes!

I, along with 2 out of 3 voters in Alabama voted against Amendment One.

Governor Riley got the message.

Governor Riley vowed to cut out the waste. Governor Riley told Alabama that he would get rid of all these "special deals." The Legislature did not get the message.

I think the Legislature got the message: "Business as Usual" and "NO Accountability." But, Governor Riley was compelled to sign these bills passed by the Legislature because Alabama would have ceased to function on October 1, 2003! I just wish that our Senator Holley had voted "No" just one time. But, I am proud that he didn't introduce any "special funding bills."

Your editorial dealt with both Education Trust Fund Money and General Fund Monies. Well, I will not get into the General Fund with this letter, but I can certainly show you some more prime examples of this type of spending.

Please consider this as my "Put Up." Do a little more research into State Government special projects before hollering for more taxes!

Thad Straughn