Potential Siegelman indictment on horizon
As the New Year begins, a few additional observations from last year as a follow-up to last week's year-end review. The most significant political event was the indictment and escape from conviction by former Gov. Don Siegelman. The final script may not yet be written on Siegelman's problems. A grand jury is still out in Montgomery.
Gov. Bob Riley, hungry for some semblance of legislative success and respect, may have fallen into yet another trap set by the smartest politician in Montgomery. Dr. Paul Hubbert lured Riley into the pitfall of proposing the largest tax increase in state history in 2003. Riley came hat-in-hand to Hubbert again in the October Special Session. He asked Hubbert and Mac McArthur what they would agree to in cost savings measures to help reduce the surging costs of state teachers' and state employees' health insurance. They agreed to a plan that would allow their boards, if they so choose, to increase the premiums for smokers and early retirees. The measures passed in a minimum week-long session.
The Special Session allowed Gov. Riley to boast that he successfully cut health insurance costs while the wily Hubbert set the stage for a pay increase for his education forces in the upcoming Regular Session. The Education Trust Fund is flush with new money from the growth in sales and income taxes. Hubbert has the problem of health insurance costs swept under the rug and will proceed in for the kill.
Statehouse observers chuckle at the naivet