Governor Riley breaking traditions on budgets

Montgomery, AL – Alabama tradition calls for new state budgets to be bigger than the ones they replace, but Republican Bob Riley is breaking that tradition -- and many others -- in his first year as governor.

Riley opened a special session of the Legislature yesterday by proposing cut-to-the-bone budgets that provide no money for textbooks, classroom computers or college aid and eliminate funding to scores of programs held dear by legislators.

The budget slashing follows voters' overwhelming rejection of his multi (b) billion dollar tax plan to deal with red ink. Elbert Peters of Huntsville, former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party and a critic of Riley's tax plan, said the governor is underestimating tax collections for the new fiscal year and inflicting more pain than necessary.

Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley said some legislators are already working on bills to restore some of the cuts proposed by Riley. One of the biggest fights in the special session may come over the Republican governor's plan to eliminate the 11 (m) million dollars that legislators get to hand out to pet projects of their choosing.