Proration bill merits 30 legislative signatures

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 16, 2001

Staff Writer

Feb. 15, 2001 10 PM

MONTGOMERY ­ Almost 30 legislators have signed on to a bill that would mean less money for them in the event proration is ever declared.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Thursday morning, State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, who is sponsoring the bill, held a press conference to get the word out about the legislation that has met with quite a bit of support.

House Bill 383 was filed on Tuesday and it has a list of 28 names attached, including

those of Boothe and co-sponsor Lesley Vance of Phenix City.

Under current law, the governor can prorate money to any department, office, agency, board, bureau, commission or institution in order to prevent overdraft or deficit in any fiscal year.

On Feb. 2, Gov. Don Siegelman did just that when he declared a proration of 6.2 percent for the Education Trust Fund.

But, Boothe believes legislators need to stand up against the governor.

Although he realizes "there’s nothing we can do" about the downturn of the economy, Boothe believes there is plenty legislators can do to protect programs in the future.

"The train’s out of the station as far as proration is concerned," Boothe said of what can be done now.

He said it is "a shame the first thing we do is cut the children" as soon as the state gets into financial distress.

Instead of taking money from the schools, Boothe believes legislators and others in government should give up some of what they get.

"If we expect them to take the bite, we ought to take the bite with them," Boothe said. "We’re all in this together."

That belief drew Boothe into having legislation to that effect drawn and filed.

If passed, the legislation would require the expense allowance for the governor’s mansion, expense allowance for legislators and salaries of the governor’s Cabinet members be reduced by the same percentage of proration declared for the Education Trust Fund or the General Fund, or both.

The Alabama Constitution of 1901 states salaries of constitutional officers can not be prorated, but other accounts can be.

"This is a wakeup call to other members of state government," Boothe said during the press conference held in the House Chamber.

By introducing the legislation, Boothe said he and those who have signed on their support are showing "we’re willing to take our hit" along with the schools.

"All of us need to join together," Boothe said. "We need to get everyone involved in this proration."

Vance agreed.

"This is a sign to the governor and state finance director," Vance said. "Education is very important and we’re going to stand up for education."

Boothe said he intends to "get this (bill) through the House" and has talked to senators who agree with what he’s trying to do. He has not discussed the bill with Siegelman.

He said "it’s not a great deal of money," but introducing the bill is his way of saying one segment of government should not be expected to lose funds while others are not impacted.

According to estimated figures Boothe was given, $2.3 million would be saved if the legislation was currently in effect.

That money, he said, could go to departments such as the Department of Human Resources, which draws money from the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund, leaving that money in the Education trust fund for other needs.

The act will become effective immediately upon becoming law.