Jimmie Lee Jackson remembered, state senate agenda and Tuscaloosa tax vote

Mar 3, 2015

Jimmie Lee Jackson

The city of Selma is preparing to remember the fiftieth anniversary of the attack known as "Bloody Sunday".

Today also marks fifty years since the funeral of civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson. His death at the hands of an Alabama State Police Trooper is considered one of the reasons Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Selma to help organize the voting rights marches.

Vera Jenkins Booker was the nurse that tended to Jackson when he was brought in to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma.

“He lived about eight days, seven or eight days, and he passed away. It really bothered me because I was just so sure he would be alright and I has assured him that up until the end, you know, “you’re gonna be alright." It kind of bothered me.”

Booker was also called upon to help civil rights marchers who were beaten by state troopers as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday.

State Senate Republicans went into a little more detail yesterday about their agenda for the legislative session beginning today.

The senate majority says charter schools, prison reform and the consolidation of state agencies are at the top of their priority list.

In addition to consolidation, Senate President Del Marsh says he wants to cut the number of state employees by eight percent by not replacing workers as they quit or retire.

The Senate Education Committee plans to hold a public hearing tomorrow on charter school legislation. Senators say the bill will give parents and students more freedom of choice. Democrats and the Alabama Education Association fear the legislation will further defund struggling public schools.

Republican senators also plan to recommend changes in sentencing, probation and parole to address Alabama's prison issues. They hope to avoid a mass release of inmates due to overcrowding.

It’s being called the biggest vote in Tuscaloosa County in thirty years.

Voters are heading to the polls to decide whether or not to renew a series of property taxes with the dollars going toward education.

County voters will say yes or no on a one and a half mill property tax and a separate four mill tax for schools. City voters will decide on a fifteen and a half mill tax for schools. One mill means your tax bill goes up by one dollar for every thousand dollars of assessed property value.

Dr. Liz Swinford is the Superintendent for Tuscaloosa County Schools. She says the renewal of these taxes will fund things like pre-k and a virtual learning center.

“But at the end of the day, 2 million dollars is a lot of money. By the tax passing we just keep the same financing, the same money, the same amount of income pretty much level. We just really need it.”

By law, the school tax in Tuscaloosa County has to be renewed every thirty years.

The Alabama Supreme Court voted to uphold a state program providing tax credits to help families pay for private school.

The Court ruled yesterday that the law does not violate restrictions on giving funds to private, religious schools because, as they see it, the funds go to the parents first.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says parents now have more flexibility with their children's education.

The law gives state income tax credits to help parents pay for private education if their child attends a failing public school. It also gives tax credits for donations to scholarship programs at private schools.

Legislators introduced the plan in conference committee and approved it the same night. The Alabama Supreme Court determined this procedure was legal.