Programs could help Black Belt

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2007

While Gov. Bob Riley didn’t address Black Belt needs specifically in Tuesday’s State of the State address, many of his proposals would help our area.

Riley recommended plans to help build up the state’s education system, including:

Asking that the Legislature approve the largest education budget in state history and an $850 million school construction and technology program.

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Expanding the Alabama Reading Initiative beyond grades K-3, and installing the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative in more schools.

Providing distance learning labs in all high schools by 2010 so rural schools can offer the same advanced courses as urban schools.

Teacher pay raises, as well as a bonus for teachers with superior performance.

A mentoring program for new teachers.

Other proposals included:

A second income tax cut that would help middle-class families, eliminating the state income tax on the first $10,000 of taxable retirement income, and removing the state sales tax on nonprescription medicine.

Tax credits for workers who go back to school for training in high-demand jobs

Tax credits for employers who hire low-income workers, welfare recipients and disabled veterans.

For small businesses, he proposed that employers be allowed to deduct from their state taxes twice the amount they pay for health insurance premiums, and that their workers be allowed to deduct twice the amount they contribute toward the insurance.

We encourage our legislators to get behind these programs that will help Alabama’s families and low-income workers.