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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Democrats to try $1 billion roads bill again

Senate Democrats, again led by Lowell Barron, plan to introduce a bill this year that would take $100 million a year for 10 years from the Alabama Trust Fund to build and improve roads and bridges in the state.
Barron, D-Fyffe, introduced a similar bill during the last legislative session, but it narrowly died in the Senate. He said he hopes to gain the votes needed to pass the legislation in the coming session, which starts Jan. 12.
Members of the Alabama Road Builders Association joined Barron, Sen. Ted Little of Auburn and Senate President Pro Tem Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham at a Wednesday press conference to discuss the proposal.
During the last session, Republicans voiced concerns about raiding the Alabama Trust Fund.
"Next week someone else will come up with a great reason to hit the oil and gas trust fund," said Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, at the time.
Barron said in March, when the bill died, that his Republican colleagues voted against progress, jobs and improved roads and bridges.
He said Wednesday that he thought he had the votes, but will work to create bipartisan support.
The bill, Barron said, would help create jobs, and would improve roads and safety in the state. Subsequently, he said, improved infrastructure helps attract industry to the state.
Barron said the trust fund is a rainy day account and he does not see a more appropriate time to use it.
Little said about a fifth of the population in Alabama is unemployed or underemployed.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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