Riley says public misinformed about proration

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 21, 2002

News Editor

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Riley jumped into the education funding debate, sharing his views on the matter during a recent visit to Troy.

"If you asked 99 percent of the people on the street why were are on proration, they would tell you that it’s because the economy slowed down and there’s less money coming in," Riley said Tuesday.

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"That’s absolutely false," he added. "There has not been one year in the last 50 years that the state has failed to take in (more tax revenue for education) than the year before."

The problem, Riley said, lies in government’s approach to spending.

"It’s the system. If you take in $1 this year, and you estimate that you’ll take in $1.10 next year, then you spend $1.10," he said. "If we take in $1.08, we’re in proration."

Riley, a Republican congressman from Alabama, was asked to address the proration issue during a speech to the Troy Rotary Club. He steered clear of other political issues, including his public dispute with Lt. Gov. Steve Windom over what Riley has described as "attack ads" in the gubernatorial race.

Instead, he compared the existing education funding system to Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity "if you keep doing the same thing and expect different results."

"If we put 100 percent more money into education tomorrow, we would still be in proration," he said.

Riley said to change the chronic funding shortfalls in education requires a shift to prior year budgeting – which means making allocations and budgeting expenses based on the real revenues generated in the previous year.

"And if more money comes in, then you can spend it," he said.