Riley Proposes Smaller Government

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Gov. Bob Riley said the decisive defeat of his tax plan shows Alabama voters want smaller government, and he's going to follow their wishes when he recommends state budgets to the Legislature on Monday.

Based on that, Riley said he will recommend state budgets for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 that cut spending below the current year and that "implement the will of the people of Alabama.''

The budgets won't reflect cuts equal to the $675 million budget shortfall that Riley has been talking all summer. Part of the shortfall was erased by $265 million in one-time federal funds.

Policy changes and delaying repayment of some borrowed money will trim the shortfall even more.

John Giles, president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama and an opponent of Riley's tax plan, said the governor should be careful in crafting the budget cuts so that voters don't interpret him as being vindictive. Otherwise, Giles said he could experience a backlash.

The administration is proposing that education spending be cut from $4.25 billion to $4.24 billion.

General Fund budget spending on non-education programs would be cut from $1.27 billion to $1.13 billion.

State Finance Director Drayton Nabers said the cuts in most state agencies will be much deeper than the overall numbers make it appear.

Some state programs are being cut 18 percent, such as state troopers and the governor's office.

That's because extra money is needed for some programs under court order, such as the prison system, and to maintain public employees' health insurance and retirement benefits.

The governor is proposing the elimination of all state funding for non-state agencies and private schools and colleges.

That includes Tuskegee University, Talladega College, Birmingham Children's Theater and Camp ASCCA for the handicapped.