New Group Pushes for Legalized Gambling, Education Budget Expands Pre-K

Jun 19, 2015

Former Alabama Power CEO Charles McCrary

The push to expand legalized gambling in Alabama is gaining some prominent new supporters.

Former Auburn University football coach Pat Dye and former Alabama Power Company CEO Charles McCrary say they will lead a foundation to legalize a state lottery and allow casinos at the state's four dog tracks.

The two attended a news conference in Montgomery yesterday to announce the formation of the new Alabama Jobs Foundation.

The group says a gambling expansion could create as many as 11,000 jobs and add $400 million to the state’s coffers.

The state Legislature killed a gambling proposal recently, but Dye and McCrary say they support the legislation drafted by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh.

Dye says a lottery and casinos could eventually solve the state's fiscal problems.

The nascent Alabama Jobs Foundation is raising money and recruiting additional leaders.

Governor Robert Bentley and state lawmakers are taking stock of the recently completed legislative session.

The legislature didn’t pass a General Fund budget, but they did finish a $6 billion education spending plan that dramatically expands funding for the state’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program.

Jeana Ross is the commissioner of the Department for Children’s Affairs. She says Pre-K in Alabama is expected to grow by thirty six hundred students.

“We’re just hoping over the next few years we’ll continue to have increased funding from our legislature so that we can offer more of these programs, and hopefully be able to have a class for every child that would like to go.”

Governor Bentley says he will call a special session later this summer, likely in August, to address the General Fund budget.

The Alabama Department of Public Health wants pet owners to be aware of the threat posed by rabies.

The agency wraps up its annual Rabies Awareness Week today. The week-long campaign focuses on rabies prevention tactics and vaccination requirements.

Dee Jones is the state public health veterinarian. He reminds residents that Alabama law requires all dogs, cats, and ferrets kept as pets to be vaccinated.

“The biggest concern about a pet not being vaccinated is that the animal can be exposed to rabies. That animal could not only become infected but shed the virus to its owner or other caretakers.”

Jones says that while animals and people are at risk, rabies is 100% preventable. He urges anyone who is bitten or scratched by an unknown or wild animal to seek immediate medical attention.

A current administrator at Louisiana State University has been named the new president of the University of Alabama.

The UA System Board of Trustees met yesterday and approved Stuart Bell as the next president for the state's flagship university.

Bell will succeed outgoing president Judy Bonner beginning on July 15. He’s currently the provost and executive vice president at LSU.

Alabama system chancellor Robert Witt recommended Bell for the top job in Tuscaloosa.

Bell was the only person recommended for the presidency following a four-month search by an advisory committee. He has three engineering degrees from Texas A&M University and previously taught engineering at Alabama.

President Bonner is retiring after less than three years on the job. She says she wants to go back to teaching. She is the first woman to ever hold the presidency at Alabama.