Light at tunnel#039;s end just not there

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 10, 2004

The Alabama Legislature will convene its regular annual session on Feb. 3, which is less than a month away.

It seems like such a short time since we were in session wrestling with the money crisis and here we are back again to deal with the same bad situation.

One of the encouraging things to me is that tax revenue into the state treasury has consistently increased over each of the past four months.

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While this does not come close to solving our financial woes, at least it is a trend that we have not seen in quite some time.

As we prepare for this next session, the budget issue overshadows practically all other legislative concerns.

Almost everyone in the Legislature recognizes the need to help Governor Bob Riley and his Administration come up with some solutions to the various crises facing our state.

Some of the major concerns are prison population overcrowding, lack of law enforcement on the public roads, having enough state money to match Medicaid funds sent to us by the federal government, maintaining consistent progress on improving our state highways, and meeting our financial obligations to our senior citizens.

The Governor has showed a reluctance to initiate any more tax measures and the legislative leadership appears to be waiting on his recommendations for solutions to our problems.

At some point soon, either or both has to move off of dead center and present some measures for us to consider.

From what I have observed and based on the information available to me, I do not personally feel that merging state agencies, enforcing more accountability, and making cuts in existing programs can generate enough additional revenue to meet our minimal needs.

This is not to say that these things are unimportant.

To the contrary, they are matters which should be addressed and I think the Governor is using his energy in this direction.

However, as I say, this, in my opinion, will not in and of itself get the job done.

I would like to hear from you, my constituents, as to what you feel are the fairest tax measures that we might consider, and if you feel strongly that there is no tax you would support, then I would also like for you to express that position to me.

We live in one of the finest states in this nation, and I think it is regrettable that we rank so low in many of the areas which are so important to quality of life.

There is no reason why we can't all join hands and take those steps which are necessary to "raising the bar" in Alabama.

Until next time, remember, "I'll go with you or I'll go for you" to help you solve any problem related to state government.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

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

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