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Living in chaotic times

The Alabama Legislature convenes Tuesday for a session rife with opportunities and various pitfalls.

The top priority — coping with lower sales tax revenues amid increases in costs of education and other services provided by the state. Partisan differences between Democrats and Republicans further compound the issue.

While legislators face trimming the budget from $1.8 billion to $1.4 billion, there’s still some hope for about $3 billion out of the economic stimulus package for the state to ease the bleeding. But partisan opposition, including at least one from the Alabama congressional delegation, may hurt those chances as well. Without the stimulus, Alabama’s financial situation will become chaotic.

Meanwhile, there’s some question about leadership in the Senate. Democrat Hinton Mitchem of Alberville took the job as the Senate’s president pro tem two years ago with a promise that he would limit his term to two years. That leaves the spot open.

A chart shows the 22 seats of Democrats has dwindled down to 19 and two of those 19 generally vote with Republicans, which hold 13 seats. Who’ll hold the reigns is anybody’s guess.

It’s time for folks in Alabama to cinch their belts and hold their respective legislators to the line.

What this state needs now is focus.