Mr. Davis comes back from Washington-for a visit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

The most eligible bachelor in the 7th U.S. Congressional District was in Selma Tuesday. His dance card was full.

Artur Davis made his first visit to the River City since his congressional swearing-in ceremony earlier this month. Davis has been no stranger to West Alabama since he defeated five-term incumbent Earl Hilliard in November.

Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. supported Hilliard in the election but was tapped by a magnanimous Davis to serve on his transition committee anyway. Perkins described the congressman’s latest visit as a chance for local social services agencies to voice their concerns about &uot;human capital issues.&uot;

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They lined up at the chance.

City Schools Superintendent Dr. James Carter, for example, shared his growing sense of vexation at the mushrooming bureaucratic red tape engendered by President Bush’s much touted &uot;No Child Left Behind&uot; education initiative.

Carter called the new regulations &uot;very complex to say the least.&uot;

Carter also voiced fears that new, tougher education requirements for teacher aides could force some longstanding employees to leave the system.

Davis pointed out that while Congress initially authorized $29 billion for the initiatives, with the peculiar logic that seems to thrive inside the Beltway only $22 billion was actually allocated.

He also said that President Bush’s current budget represents the smallest increase in education spending since 1994. &uot;That’s something people should know,&uot; he said.

As each person gathered in the conference room of the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center described the concerns facing his or her agency, the new congressman nodded in sympathy and his aides scribbled notes.

Davis cautioned those present to expect continued belt-tightening at the federal level in the coming months.

He called the recent change in economic forecast, in which the federal budget went from an expected surplus of $160 billion to an expected deficit of $160 billion in the span of just a couple of years, one of the fastest fiscal turnarounds on record.

Davis, a Democrat, disclosed that he expects to be appointed to the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services when committee appointments are finalized later this month.

He said it would be the first time a freshman congressman has been appointed to that committee, which oversees the entire financial services industry, including the securities, insurance, banking and housing industries.

Davis called a robust housing industry vital to any sustained economic recovery, adding, &uot;The problem with the housing industry right now is not just low-income families. It’s middle-income families, as well.&uot;

He noted that there are numerous programs already in place to help those who wish to purchase a home, but that they are not always well publicized.