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FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Election-year politics not good for schools

The Alabama Education Association has legitimate cause to question Gov. Bob Riley's ambitious capital spending plan for schools. Proration is ugly, and that's what occurred following most gubernatorial elections since 1978.

The governor, who is supposed to be fiscally conservative Republican, is acting like what his party members call spendthrift Democrats.

In wanting to spend $500 million in surplus school funds, the governor's acting like proration is a thing of the past. But history suggests it will roll around again some year soon just as sure as the state goes on an election-year spending binge.

Using surplus funds makes sense, but taking $216 million from one of the state's two hedge-fund accounts against proration is risky.

"If we cannot do it this year when we have record growth, when can we ever do it?" the governor asked legislators. But a budget that's based on sales tax fluctuates with the economy. The economy doesn't grow every year. Sometimes it goes into recession.

AEA's point is that that election-year overspending usually sets the state up for proration, which finds its way back to the classroom as cuts in funding.

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