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State finances boom; special session suspicions

By M.J. Ellington · (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Is it possible that poor Alabama is not so poor anymore?

State financial experts say it’s hard to do the financial projections they usually do when analyzing revenue on which to base budgets for one to five years. That is because the state’s revenue growth is exceeding all standard estimates. That hasn’t happened before in this state.

We’re hot.

  • Democrats are suspicious of Gov. Bob Riley’s special session for industrial recruitment. Sen. Zeb Little, D-Cullman, said Riley wants a special session because Republicans in the Senate have said they plan to slow or filibuster action in the regular session.

  • Finance Director Jim Main has a new public affairs director who is familiar with big-time automotive manufacturing. Kathy Johnson was assistant public relations director for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama when the company opened its plant in Montgomery in 2005.

  • The state Board of Education agenda for its monthly Department of Post-Secondary Education meeting Thursday calls for a vote on proposals to separate the Alabama Firefighters’ Personnel Standards Commission/Alabama Fire College and Shelton State Community College. Questions about the Fire College and Shelton State led to an ongoing federal investigation and ouster of former Chancellor Roy Johnson.

  • Matt Lembke, a former legal adviser to Riley and head of the litigation division of Birmingham law firm Bradley, Arant, Rose and White, will be U.S. Sen. John McCain’s legal adviser in Alabama if McCain makes his unofficial run for president official for 2008. Bradley, Arant is the same firm where defeated Republican lieutenant governor candidate Luther Strange hangs his hat.

  • Other Republican operatives who have joined McCain in Alabama include former Alabama Republican Party Executive Director Tim Howe, who will direct McCain’s state campaign; and media organizers David Azbell and Dax Swatek, who will be senior advisers. McCain picked up an endorsement from former state Republican executive committee Chairman Winton Blount III, who was state finance director and twice ran for governor as a Republican in the 1990s.

  • Alabama Treasurer Kay Ivey gave her presidential contender endorsement to another Republican whose financial skill she respects. Ivey endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

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