Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Senate Sketches #1423: Thinking about AEA in a historical way

  “Have you seen Dr. Hubbert’s letter?” That’s how a friend informed me of a developing controversy involving AEA (Alabama Education Association). I had not seen the letter, but I hastened to read the news article forwarded to me by e-mail. I was deeply concerned about AEA, and it spurred me to think about AEA in a historical way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Hunt leaves mark as first GOP governor since Reconstruction

  When Guy Hunt took office as the first Republican governor in January of 1987 not much was expected of him. After all, he had been elected only because of the backlash resulting from the handpicking of Bill Baxley over Charlie Graddick by the Democratic Party leadership. Very few people voted for Hunt because they thought he was the better choice or that his credentials rendered him more qualified.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Michael Josephson: The Application of religion to business

  Most Americans say they’re religious and their beliefs are important to their lives, yet I’m astonished at how many seem to ignore their religion’s moral expectations and prescriptions. Religion isn’t about only worship and ritual; it teaches believers how to live.

  Thus, the holy books of every major religion are filled with precepts and principles about honesty, justice, fidelity, compassion, and charity that leave no doubt about the role ethics and personal virtue should play in our daily lives, at home and at work. In his fine book The Business Bible: 10 New Commandments for Bringing Spirituality & Ethical Values into the Workplace, Rabbi Wayne Dosick tells of a soap-maker who challenged a rabbi: “What good is religion? It teaches honesty, but most people are dishonest.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Katherine Green Robertson: Budget Basics: Understanding Alabama’s budget system

  This is part 2 of API’s 3-part “Budget Basics” series: exploring Alabama’s budget system, the current fiscal climate and related challenges, and the implications for taxpayers.

  The Alabama state budget process begins with the Alabama Department of Finance’s Executive State Budget Office (EBO), as required by Alabama law. The EBO puts together the Governor’s Executive Budget and presents it to the Alabama Legislature. The legislature reviews the governor’s budget and drafts its own, with assistance from the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO). The two appropriations bills then go through the typical legislative process, starting with consideration by the relevant committees: the Senate Committee on Finance and Taxation- ETF, the Senate Committee on Finance and Taxation-GF, the House Ways and Means Education Committee, and the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sally Steenland: Wise as serpents but harmless as doves

  I thought of Jesus the other day when I read about the Obama administration’s latest effort to provide women with the health care they need. In late August, the Obama administration announced yet another set of rules for insurance plans’ birth control coverage in response to a seemingly unending series of objections by employers and other opponents. Their complaint? That having to include contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, violates their religious liberty.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Michael Josephson: Moving beyond 9/11

  I’ve become increasingly ambivalent about the way we commemorate the dark days and months that began on September 11th, 2001.

  Each year the memories and all the feelings they evoke are less vivid. Thus, the news articles, commentaries and TV specials about the 9/11 attacks serve as important reminders, not only of the immeasurable loss of life and the permanent degradation of our sense of security, but of the lessons we should have learned from the events and its aftermath. And, of course, re-focusing on these horrible memories is made so much more poignant by the current debates concerning military intervention in Syria.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our Stand: Governor Bentley should stop hiding

  The powers wielded by an incumbent governor cannot be enumerated here. Those are far too numerous to list. But no elected official seeking reelection should exercise the power to dodge a debate with his or her opponent. It's a disservice to everyone living under that individual's leadership.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The gubernatorial blood bath of ‘86

  The 1986 Alabama governor’s race will be remembered as one of Alabama’s most amazing political stories. In 1978 Fob James sent the Three B’s, Brewer, Beasley and Baxley packing. Brewer and Beasley had been permanently exiled to Buck’s Pocket, the mythical destination for defeated Alabama gubernatorial candidates. However, Bill Baxley resurrected his political career by bouncing back to be elected lieutenant governor in 1982, while George Wallace was winning his fifth and final term as governor. Another player arrived on the state political scene. Charlie Graddick was elected as a fiery tough, lock ‘em up and throw away the key attorney general. Graddick had previously been a tough prosecuting district attorney in Mobile.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Adam Hersh: The United States needs more and better jobs

  Hiring in the United States slowed dramatically in August, according to new data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. This provides a sobering reminder that—despite 47 straight months of job gains—the labor market is not yet creating enough jobs for all who want work, nor quality jobs that lead to a middle-class livelihood.

  Private employers added 134,000 jobs in August, while the public sector added another 8,000 jobs. Headline unemployment ticked down 0.1 percentage points to 6.1 percent, but this decrease was due to fewer people actively looking for work rather than an actual increase in employment.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Katherine Green Robertson: Budget Basics: The facts about Alabama’s budget system

  This is part 1 of the Alabama Policy Institute’s three-part “Budget Basics” series, exploring Alabama’s budget system, the current fiscal climate and related challenges, and the implications for taxpayers.

  Many taxpayers are familiar with the federal budgeting system, thanks to incessant coverage of budget standoffs, government shutdowns, and increasing national debt. Yet many Alabamians remain completely unfamiliar with Alabama’s budget and the budgeting process. When the Alabama Legislature convenes in March, leadership will face the daunting task of balancing the FY2016 budget at a time when the long-term budget outlook is bleak.