- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

July 29

The Dothan (Alabama) Eagle on state’s budget strain:

It’s difficult to argue with an initiative that would aim to bring new jobs into Alabama, particularly considering that the state’s 6.9 percent unemployment figure is 13 percent higher than the national average.

However, expect a howling fight over how Gov. Robert Bentley hopes to fund his plan to pay for economic incentives for new businesses: Last Wednesday, Bentley said he planned to call a special legislative session to divert money from the Education Fund to provide those incentives.

He later backtracked on the statement, saying he had no intention of “hurting the education budget.”

It would seem to make no sense. With public education in Alabama ranked at or near the bottom in virtually every national academic measurement, the last thing we should do is take money from education for any purpose. Yet that was Bentley’s plan. What’s worse is that the governor has little other choice.

The problem lies in the way the state manages its revenue. For almost 90 years, Alabama has had bifurcated budgets - The Special Education Trust Fund for education, and the General Fund for everything else. Revenue from the most steady and prolific sources, such as income, sales, utility and use taxes, — are dedicated to the SETF. The General Fund is fed by a mishmash of other sources, such as taxes on insurance premiums, oil and gas lease taxes and various others. The result is the Education Fund is usually far healthier than the General Fund.

Alabama needs more jobs. And Alabama needs an adequately funded public education system.

They can start by weighing the pros and cons of consolidating our two budgets and joining 47 other states that appear to operate well with only one.

Online:

http://www.dothaneagle.com

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July 25

Tuscaloosa (Alabama) News on grandstanding:

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