A new constitution could end archaic inefficiencies

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 15, 2003

Gov. Bob Riley's blue-ribbon commission on constitutional reform has spoken, and will forward its official report to the governor on March 28.

This issue now lies at the feet of the governor and Legislature. Will they finally deal with the issue?

Even during his campaign, Gov. Bob Riley never shied from the issue of constitutional reform. His business background drives his desire for efficiencies and effectiveness, both of which are sorely lacking in our state's cumbersome and archaic constitution.

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And, truth be told, lawmakers know it needs to be reformed. State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, stood before members of the Troy Rotary Club earlier this year and said the Constitution still remains an albatross around Alabama's neck.

We feel confident that Riley will present the lengthy report to the Legislature in some form or fashion.

But that confidence waivers in the hands of those lawmakers. Will Alabama's voters speak with a clear voice and push constitutional reform? Is our state ready to release state revenues from earmarked funds, freeing lawmakers to spend the money on what they see as the greatest needs and priorities? Are we ready to give county commissions more authority - more home rule, if you will - to zone property; spend money; raise taxes? Are we willing to give the governor line-item veto authority over budget items? Are we willing to step away from "the way we've always done it" to reevaluate, redirect and reposition Alabama for the future?

Alabama ought to be ready to sustain the forward momentum created by economic growth and smart government.

We ought to end the backward-thinking, old-school approach to governance and act on a new constitution.