Republicans tackling tough budget

Published 10:49 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2011

As the Legislative Session approaches the midway point all eyes are centered on the state budgets. The state is facing the most devastating financial abyss since the Great Depression. The Education and General Funds are both in dire straits. The state coffers are lower by $250 million than expected and no federal stimulus money is available this year.

If any group is capable of balancing the state’s budgets it is this new Republican legislature. They are true blue fiscal conservatives. This group will have no qualms slicing and dicing state government. Many of them would rather do away with the government altogether. If truth were known, most would favor doing away with Medicaid which would definitely balance the General Fund.

The November election, which overwhelmingly swept Republicans into majorities in the House and Senate, washed away most of his Democrats and power. However, it was not enough to simply dethrone him. The new Republicans set out to decapitate the king and his powerful union.

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Within a month of their victory, lame duck Gov. Bob Riley embarked on a mission to kill the king while he was down. Riley called a special session under the guise of ethics reform. However, his priority and Bill No. 1 was an act to disallow teachers and school support personnel from paying their dues through automatic payroll deductions from state paychecks. This act of retribution will have a chilling effect on the AEA and the State Employees Association. In essence they may have laughed at Riley but he had the last laugh.

This act will have a significant effect on the power and influence of the AEA, which represents more than 90 percent of Alabama’s teachers. Most of these members used payroll deduction to pay into the organization. The combination of a new GOP super majority in the legislature coupled with the elimination of the automatic dues deduction has not only diminished the organization’s power but has rendered it hapless.

Another shoe dropped on the once omnipotent king as the new legislative session began. The assault on the influence of King Hubbert’s teachers’ organization came on two new fronts. The GOP legislature is working on a bill to provide liability insurance for all Alabama teachers. However, for years one of the primary incentives for educators to join the AEA was that the union provided liability insurance. The Republican legislature dealt yet another blow to Hubbert and the AEA by dismantling the DROP program. They made quick work of ending this lucrative extra incentive retirement program enjoyed by high income and high profile education personnel. In fact, Dr. Hubbert and his cohort

The anti-Democratic tsunami that engulfed Alabama made the money meaningless. It is a safe bet that as the Republican legislators are crafting the state budgets for next year they probably will not ask Dr. Hubbert to help them with their homework.