I attended Governor Riley’s State of the State address at the State Capitol. Riley asked the legislature to focus on 5 areas: economic development (tax credits for job creation), education (charter schools), ethics (subpoena power), PACT (Riley said the State made a promise and should keep it – standing ovation), and gambling (bingo machines are illegal slot machines). Riley reminded the legislature of the corruption that former Gov. Patterson fought long ago – and that Patterson said no good ever comes out of gambling.
The biggest problem Riley has getting his agenda passed is that the Democrats control both the State House and the State Senate (with a veto-proof 21 seats).
An issue under discussion that disturbs me is that some legislators are planning to raid the Alabama Trust Fund. The Dems want to raid it for road construction (election year) and a few GOP want to raid it for coastal insurance. Either way – I don’t think they plan to ‘pay it back’. The legislature already drained the reserves, they’ve already spent the stimulus money, and now they’re hoping for ‘Stimulus 2′ to make up budget shortfalls.
The State of the State address was held in the magnificent old Capitol Building. We got a quick tour of some of the preserved spaces, like the Treasurer’s Office (from the 1850s). The chamber in which the speech was delivered was packed: State Senators, Representatives, Justices, State Officers – all of them were there. I watched from the balcony, where I got to meet Kristopher of TheWorldAroundYou.
I also met Alex Goepfert, Communication Director for Congressman Artur Davis (D – running for Governor). Alex complimented Brian’s analysis of the Governor’s race (no words from the Sparks’ campaign). Alex is a friendly young man and I was happy to meet him.
After the speech, I got to hang out with Senator Paul Sanford. From what I saw, the people in District 7 can be proud of how well he’s establishing himself in the political scene. Paul is ‘the new face’ of the ALGOP.
We went to the Montgomery Brewpub for dinner, which is just around the corner from the new Wintzell’s. The old Capitol Hotel with the Karaoke Bar has closed, so the Montgomery Brewpub plans to have Karaoke Nights on Tuesday for Legislators. Note to Mike Ball – they don’t have equipment for instruments, so bring your own – they’re expecting you