Education affects all aspects of life

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Governor Don Siegelman declared this past week at a news conference that &uot;I will not again declare proration for Alabama's public schools and colleges.&uot;

At that same news conference, an Associated Press news reporter reminded Governor Siegelman that over the past three years he has consistently stated he would not recommend to the Legislature any new taxes to support education or any other program of state government.

Whenever I hear this type of rhetoric from our executive branch of government, I find myself waiting for the next sentence or statement n one relating to the solution of the problem. It is one thing to recite the problem and state what you will not do. It is another thing to come forward and deliver a solution.

As Franklin Roosevelt said, &uot;the business of a leader is to turn weakness into strength, obstacles into stepping stones, and disaster into triumph.&uot; Alabamians need and deserve such leadership with respect to the problems relating to education in our state.

It is essential to the well-being of our state that we solve the revenue problems relating to public education, but it will not be

done easily without leadership from the administration.

Yesterday morning, I was preparing for a brief appearance on WSFA-TV to discuss the factors which influence industries to locate in our Alabama communities. I had in my possession a &uot;checklist&uot; furnished to me by the Alabama Development Office that generally reflects what an industry is looking for.

The first thing on this seven item check-list was an inquiry about the local school system. It is understandable that companies which move their personnel into a new environment are interested in the welfare of their

workers' families and their children. One of the things which most affect such families is the quality of education.

What are the options that are available to prevent more cuts in education spending? So far, Gov. Siegelman hasn't said how he will prevent such cuts. To get ideas, he has got fiscal experts reviewing state finances, and he said at the press conference that he plans to form an &uot;all-star cast&uot; to study education funding in Alabama.

Earlier last week, several education leaders, including Dr. Paul Hubbert from the Alabama Education Association, University of Alabama Chancellor Tom Meredith, and Troy State University Chancellor Jack Hawkins, had a news conference in which they called for a tax hike to provide short-term help.

In last week's column I submitted to you a questionnaire requesting your views on different proposed tax measures. I have not yet tallied all the answers I received, but my preliminary look at several of the responses indicated a strong desire to find funding to solve the problems of public education and opposition to increased taxes affecting family or personal income. I guess I could interpret this as saying, "I favor increased revenues, but just don't tax me."

That reminds me of Will Rogers' description of taxation. He said &uot;taxation is the gentle art of picking the goose in such a way as to secure the greatest amount of feathers with the least amount of squawking.&uot;

I guess if there was an easy solution it would have already been found.

Remember, &uot;I'll go with you or I'll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government. You can reach me at P O Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049 or 334-335-3449.