New statehouse or schools?

Published 2:26 am Wednesday, January 30, 2008

By Staff
Lawmakers in Montgomery apparently want to build themselves a new statehouse.
In fact, according to an Associated Press survey, 32 percent of House members and 55 percent of the senators believe the old statehouse is too crowded and aging, and they would like to build a bigger and better one.
Have they been to any of the more than 1,000 portable classrooms that litter the schoolyards across the state?
Have they noticed that budget officials are predicting lower than expected funds available for the general fund and education budgets this year?
A new statehouse would be great. It would provide much more room for citizens to see what happens in state government - and I am all for open government. But I have a hard time believing that open government is the driving force behind lawmakers' desire for a new building.
One of the problems with the current statehouse is that the halls and rooms are more crowded with lobbyists than they are with citizens who bring school students or activist groups to view the process themselves, according to an article by The Associated Press.
A new statehouse would be a showplace for democracy in Alabama - but unfortunately not a showplace for practicality, at least not this year. The state simply does not have the money to build a new office building for legislators. Maybe another year, but now is not the time.
Not when thousands of students across the state still go to school in portable classrooms. Not when the economy is slipping across the nation and across the state. Not when we need to watch every penny to make sure we don't end up in an even bigger budget crisis in future years.
Perhaps lawmakers would be willing to implode their current statehouse and put some trailers on the site for their offices. Then they would get a better idea what needs to happen with the state's education budget - and where our priorities should lie during a budget crunch.
Kerry Whipple Bean is publisher of The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by e-mail at

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