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Riley’s veto on its way

By M.J. Ellington · (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — When the state House goes into session at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Gov. Bob Riley’s veto of a legislative pay raise will be waiting.

Jeff Emerson, the governor’s communications director, said the governor’s veto of the $19,000-per-year House and Senate expense-allowance increase will arrive in the House chamber as a message from the governor.

The Legislature approved the increase March 8 on a voice vote. That same day, Riley said the increase was excessive and vowed to veto it. Since then, voter anger over the raise has expressed itself in letters to the editor and on radio talk shows.

Sen. Tom Butler said there is another option. “The governor could reduce the amount of the increase,” he said.

In 1990, the last time the Legislature passed an increase, Gov. Guy Hunt vetoed it but approved a smaller increase, which went into effect in 1991.

Butler said he doesn’t know if Riley plans such a move, but it’s a possibility.

“I think the press and many voters think it is time for some increase, but maybe not that much,” Butler said.

Emerson said he expects a veto with no suggested alternative. Over the weekend, Riley gave the veto a 50-50 chance of succeeding, but Monday no one would predict whether lawmakers had the votes needed for an override.

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