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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Riley stops in the Senate to push legislation



Gov. Bob Riley stopped in the Alabama Senate on Wednesday morning to talk to lawmakers about a handful of issues with time running out on the legislative session.

Riley, after spending time on the floor of the Senate, would not tell the media all of the issues he is working on, but said the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition or PACT program is one of them. He said the people of the state deserve to know officials are working on a resolution.

The funds in the PACT program have dropped significantly with the downturn in the economy.

People with family members enrolled in the program became angry when hearing about the financial outlook of PACT.

Lawmakers have introduced various legislation to assist the program, but those proposals have stalled. Those bills would take state funds to prop up PACT.

"There are certain people in the House and Senate who think the state has no responsibility," Riley said. "I disagree with that."

Riley, House Speaker Seth Hammett and other lawmakers have said the state has a moral obligation to those people who put money into the program thinking it would pay for a child's college education.

On Wednesday, Riley talked to Democrats, Republicans and Democratic Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr.

Riley, a Republican, said the easiest way to try to work on issues is to come to the State House. His office is across South Union Street in the Capitol. He said they did not reach a resolution on any issues on Wednesday.

Riley makes occasional trips to the State House. Two years ago, he intervened during the session when there was stalling and disagreement over a bill intended to help with locating the ThyssenKrupp steel plant in Alabama.

Senators eventually passed the legislation.

The governor also stopped in the State House a year ago as two sides sparred over funding for higher education in the education budget. He met with the two sides in Senate offices, but lawmakers were unable to pass the budget during the regular session. Riley had to call a special session, when legislators quickly passed the budget.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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