Legislature should insist on

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 14, 2000

fiscally sound education budget

MONTGOMERY – The House of Representatives is standing Þrm in demanding accountability language in the Education Budget for the Þscal year 2001.

"The House is committed to a sound, responsible budget," states Representative Alan Boothe (D – Troy). "We want every nickel to be counted."

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Boothe favors "performance based budgeting" which requires agencies to state objectives and set goals for their funds.

By doing this, Boothe believes the House has virtually eliminated the traditional practice of

"pass-through funds" that is more commonly known as "pork money."

"If a project is a worthwhile expenditure, then there is no reason to hide it as a ‘pass through’ in an educational institution’s budget," explains Representative Boothe. "Taxpayers want to know how their money is being spent, and I am committed to telling them."

Both the Education Budget and the General Fund Budget have undergone major overhauls in committee this session. House Speaker Seth Hammett has worked closely with the budget committee chairs and the Governor to make both budgets more Þscally sound and effective. Last week, House members approved the changes made by the Senate to the Þscal year 2001 General Fund Budget and it is on its way to the Governor’s Desk.

"Getting the General Fund Budget to the Governor before the 11th hour shows the impact of strong leadership in the House on the legislative process," states Representative Boothe.

On the heels of the budget vote, House members passed several of bills that impact local community safety. Among them is House Bill 485 by Representative John Rogers (D-Birmingham) that steps up security for university hospitals. It allows campus police ofÞcers of any college or university that offers medical and healthcare education programs or operates a hospital to access criminal background checks for potential employees from the Alabama Criminal Justice information Center (ACJIC).

The University of Alabama in Birmingham and University of South Alabama are speciÞcally cited in the bill. Current law makes the information available to certain authorized persons and agencies, primarily municipal, county and state law enforcement bodies.

The proposal passed unopposed, 94-0. Representative Neal Morrison (D – Cullman) sponsored House Bill 554 that amends the Protection from Abuse Act, which passed 96-0. It allows each judicial circuit to establish a speciÞc district court within the circuit as the "abuse court" with jurisdiction over all the proceedings related to abuse.

It also expands the deÞnition of "abuse" in the Act from just criminal coercion, harassment, kidnapping, assault, sexual abuse and other related terms, to include arson, causing physical harm to a family member, causing a family member to engage in sexual activity by force or threat of force, and placing a family member in fear of physical harm. Both bills travel to the Senate for consideration with three days left in the session.


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