News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2007


Senate must fund Enterprise schools

Sen. Lowell Barron and the Democratic majority in the Alabama Senate should be ashamed of themselves for holding up the $79 million appropriation for the building of new schools at Enterprise.

A tornado on March 1 destroyed Enterprise High School and heavily damaged Hillcrest Elementary School, killing eight students and two other people in Alabama. It was a devastating injury to the school and community. On Thursday, the state Senate added insult to that injury by allowing petty politics to delay a vote on the construction funds.

Sen. Tom Butler of Madison was one Democrat on the right side.

“Half of the Senate wanted to do that bill first,” Mr. Butler said. “Common sense says that you do the Enterprise bill first because you have children with no school. If it was any of us, we would want that.”

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, also favored voting first on the Enterprise bill.

But Sen. Zeb Little, D-Cullman, is part of the majority Senate faction that also includes Mr. Barron, who chairs the Rules Committee. “The majority is 18 to 17, and y’all lost,” Mr. Little said, referring to a January organizational vote. “Today you are just delaying our bringing up the Enterprise bill.”

Talk of political winners and losers has no place in this debate. If all members of the Senate were exercising good sense and compassion, they would let nothing hold up the Enterprise bill.

Let’s think about the people of Enterprise, who are losers through no fault of their own.

Because of the loss of two schools (especially the high school) and the deaths of eight wonderful students as well as widespread destruction all over the city, those people are suffering emotionally, physically and fiscally. They need help in rebuilding their spirits, and for the Senate leadership, especially Mr. Barron, to play games at their expense is just short of criminal.

The Senate should put the Enterprise money in the top spot on its calendar when it returns to work Tuesday, and pass it unanimously.

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