Take care of business here

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 6, 2008

The issue: Some legislators will go to conferences this month in New Orleans or Oklahoma City or both.

Our position: Our legislators, Sen. Hank Sanders, and Rep. Yusuf Salaam and Rep. James Thomas should set a good example and stay home during these hard times.

A good many of us have tried to stay positive during these times of rapidly rising gasoline prices and substantial increases in grocery prices.

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We&8217;ve winced at reports of our legislators unable to reach decisions because of politics. We&8217;ve worried about the financing of public schools for our children through sales tax and income tax.

Now comes another high-dollar item: conferences.

The Huntsville Times reported recently about state legislators wanting to go to The Southern Legislative Conference in Oklahoma City or the National Conference of State Legislators in New Orleans or both.

The story also says budget officials estimate the cost to taxpayers at between $65,000 and more than $167,000.

That&8217;s a lot of money for a state that recently saw layoffs of teachers because its lawmakers couldn&8217;t agree on a budget.

First-year teachers right out of college earn about $30,000 a year. So, at the low end of the spectrum, two teachers salaries could be saved.

Think that&8217;s not significant?

In most rural areas of the state, students have to take some courses they need for college preparation by television. It&8217;s called distance learning.

Everyone agrees it would be better to have a teacher in the classroom than one on a 32-inch LCD screen.

Still not convinced?

A single copy of &8220;The United States Early Years,&8221; an elementary school social studies text costs $30.64 new, according to Amazon.com. Educational book dealers have said $30 is about the average for a text.

The state Department of Education says in 2006-07 (the last year figures are available), Dallas County had an average student population of 4,458.2 and Selma City had an average student population of 3,934.8.

If you add the two student populations together and multiply them by the average cost of a text, you would come up with $251,790. That&8217;s for one.

Further, Volkswagen will announce its decision about a site for a $1 billion assembly plant in North America. Limestone County is in the running.

If Volkswagen makes the announcement, the governor will call a special session of the legislature to consider an incentives package.

The package must be approved by the first week in August for voters to decide on it during the November election.

Another reason for passing over the conferences.

We urge our legislators &8212; Sen. Hank Sanders, Rep. Yusuf Salaam and Rep. James Thomas &8212; to stay at home, help save dollars and be prepared to move into a special session.

It&8217;s the right thing to do.