Riley Goes to "Plan B"

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The Alabama Legislature gets Gov. Bob Riley's "Plan B" Tuesday--- accountability without new taxes.

The governor and the Legislature go into the 2004 regular session with big money problems that Riley says offer the opportunity to reshape state government.

Riley's "Plan A" was a proposed $1.2 billion tax hike coupled with several government accountability measures.

Alabama voters rejected the plan by a two to one margin in a referendum last September.

Riley will outline his legislative wish list in a State of the State speech to legislators at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. His address is expected to focus on the accountability measures he wants lawmakers to pass, streamlining the process for dismissing bad teachers, and as-yet-unspecified changes to hold down health insurance costs for state workers and education employees.

Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley said no amount of accountability will solve what she calls "the worst financial crisis to confront the state since the Great Depression.''

Riley is also expected to ask lawmakers to deal with ethics and accountability in a special session, rather than the regular session.

Riley's floor leader in the House, Rep. Mike Hubbard of Auburn, said he believes the governor will make that request.

But Rep. John Knight of Montgomery said there's no reason for a special session. He said House leaders will make Riley's accountability legislation a priority during the regular session.

It would take votes of the House and Senate to recess for a special session and there's some doubt Riley has enough votes.