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Gov. Siegelman explains special session

Governor Don Siegelman, in a statement issued Friday evening addressed the day's legislative proceedings, and reasoning for a special session.

"I called the Alabama legislature into a special session to solve two problems," Siegelman said. "We asked for help to minimize the effects of this national economic downturn on kids and classrooms in both K-12 and colleges and universities."

Siegelman said that he feels that a reasonable proposal has been laid out to ease the burden of proration.

"Our plan prevents teacher layoffs, prevents professor layoffs, and prevents tuition hikes at colleges and universities," he said. "This plan puts kids first-it is fair to K-12 and is also fair to higher education-in fact, the last proposal I made treated K-12 and higher education exactly the same by setting proration at 4.6 percent for both.

"Regrettably, higher education has rejected this plan. While my proposal would greatly reduce the impact of proration on both K-12 and colleges and universities, I am ready to listen to suggestions as long as they meet the following three conditions: one, they do not result in teacher layoffs; two, they do not result in laying off college professors; and three, they do not result in tuition increases at our colleges and universities."

Siegelman said the attorney general has interpreted his (Siegelman's) requirements regarding the issue.

"If we do not find a solution in this special session, under the Attorney General's opinion, I am required to implement a revised proration plan that will prevent teacher layoffs but also result in a higher level of proration for higher education.

"While this is significantly better than the court's decision, this in not something I want to do. I hope that-working together-we can find another solution. No matter what, we will not tolerate tuition increases at Alabama's public universities," Siegelman said.

The governor said that it is a matter of setting priorities.

"All of us, including university officials, must set correct priorities. We should not place the burden of an economic downturn on the backs of our college students," he said. "I say again that I am ready to listen, and I am willing to sit down with higher education to implement a reasonable plan to get us through this difficult period."