Much thought enters budget cuts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Are you surprised at the number of cuts that are being made in state agencies and our school systems?

As your State Senator, I have been very much involved in the day to day meetings which have taken place since the Legislature passed the Governor’s budgets, and even I am amazed at the depth of the complaints that are being lodged by state agencies and our school leaders.

For instance, the state judicial system was only cut 10% but they have laid off over 400 people, have cut out law clerks for those who write judicial opinions, have cancelled many jury trials and have otherwise cut back on services previously performed in behalf of the public.

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This is just one agency.

Almost every state department, including the Ethics Commission, have laid off people to the point that they are almost dysfunctional.

I am personally troubled by what is happening.

I do not believe all of these cuts in personnel and services are necessary, even given the reduction in funds available to spend.

At a recent state school board meeting, State Superintendent of Education Ed Richardson voiced the suggestion that football teams, bands, and other extra-curricular activities might be cut from high school programs throughout the state.

To me this is a drastic, if not dramatic statement.

First of all, the cuts in the education budget were minimal.

Most of the funds that were pared back were in the general fund budget, which does not affect education.

Secondly, the economy is recovering and that should mean additional growth in the education fund.

More money is needed to provide services at previous levels but the drastic cutbacks need to be carefully scrutinized by the state finance director and those in local leadership positions.

Gov. Bob Riley will announce this week a new commission which will have as its assignment preparing a written report by the first of the year stating preferences for cuts and program consolidations.

This could be a helpful &uot;tool&uot; but it must be administered fairly and it must stay &uot;above politics.&uot;

I will be following the work of this commission very closely.

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On a lighter note, it was a real pleasure to be at the Troy State University Homecoming Parade on Saturday.

This is always a delightful occasion.

The crowd was announced as the largest in the history of the parade.

This just reflects once again the spirit and the support which TSU gains each year for its outstanding educational and athletic programs.

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Paul and Joanne Schrantz hosted a delightful post game party following the Auburn-Mississippi State game on Saturday which I attended.

It was a most enjoyable occasion and I got to see several people from Greenville, including Mayor and Mrs. Dexter McLendon, Mr. and Mrs. Tim Pierce, and Mr. and Mrs. Boyd Foster.

It’s fun to go to a party when you have been the winner.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

be reacjed at 334-242-7883, or by writing

to P.O. Box 225, Luverne, AL 36049.