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Alabama#039;s governor honored

"Governing" magazine recently named Alabama Governor Bob Riley as Public Official of the Year.

This is a significant honor bestowed on a well-deserving individual by a highly respected publication.

When you consider the numerous choices this magazine had from all across our country, I think it is a special honor that our governor and friend was chosen for that recognition.

The "Governing" magazine article called Governor Riley a profile in courage.

They cited his "leading the fight for fiscal fairness and flexibility" and gave him this recognition even though his tax reform measures failed.

The article went on to say that "faced with a massive budget deficit, Riley tried not only to close the gap but also to reshape his state by addressing the basic inequities and fiscal incongruities that have held it back over the decades."

I know you join me in extending congratulations to Governor Riley on this well deserved recognition.

I just hope the Governor has a further opportunity to make the changes he desires in state government.

I will certainly be supporting him in this effort.

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The centerpiece of attention this past week in Montgomery was the action of the Court of the Judiciary in removing Chief Justice Roy Moore from his judicial post.

The nine member Court of the Judiciary, made up of Democrats and Republicans, voted unanimously to dismiss Chief Justice Moore, citing his refusal to obey a federal court order to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Supreme Court rotunda.

I was a little surprised that the vote was unanimous.

Judge Moore has a huge following throughout our state, as well as a considerable following throughout the nation, and I anticipated that his popularity would influence at least a few of the Judiciary Court members to give him a lesser punishment or no punishment at all.

There is considerable speculation that Judge Moore will view his current popularity as an opportunity to seek an office such as United States senator or governor of Alabama, but he has not revealed any intentions to pursue either of these offices.

Senator Richard Shelby's United States Senate seat will come up next summer but the governor's race is almost three years away.

A lot can change in that period of time.

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On the "home front" my colleagues and I are wrestling with how to structure a FY 2004 and beyond budget with no new revenue to work with.

The next regular sessions begins in February and budget hearings will commence shortly after the first of the year.

Economic development is strong in Alabama at the present time, but a lot of our new industry was obtained by granting tax abatements and other incentives which will not benefit us in the short term.

As soon as the additional work force gets its first paychecks, then we may see some upturn in spending and more money to work with.

In the meantime, we must find some new dollars in order to provide minimal services to our people.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

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

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