I drove to Montgomery on Monday afternoon; thankfully I was able to solve my transportation problems prior to the start of session. My trusty little car (12 years old, pushing 130,000 miles) that carried me across Limestone and Madison Counties during the campaign of 2010, and back and forth to Montgomery last session - over icy, snow covered roads earning it the nick-name "The little car that could" - decided it couldn't any more. Last Thursday, on my way to pre-session meetings in Montgomery, she gave up in Cullman. Good news, we may be able to rebuild her and get her back on the road. The adventure of having your car breakdown on I-65 and the tow-truck ride back to Madison is one for the ages.
I started my day Monday attending the budget hearings prior to the start of session at 9:00. I encourage you to review the slide presentations from the Legislative Fiscal Office and Department of Finance . There is a lot of great background information on these slides and I will use this information to help guide the debate and my decisions on the 2013 budgets. I'll share more on my thoughts about the budgets in a later blog. We've yet to see the Gov's proposed budget but it is to be delivered later today.
We were in session for about two hours, mostly for introduction of bills. I was also able to hold several meetings throughout the afternoon. I attended a legislative reception sponsored by CLAS (Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools) and the School Superintendents of Alabama. It was nice to visit with several principals and superintendents from North Alabama. I then attended the State of the State Address at the Capitol. I liked Governor Bentley's address and look forward to working the many challenges we face in the months ahead.
In addition to the budgets, charter schools will be an issue we'll face this session. I've received several phone calls and emails regarding charter schools; both pro and con. As always I appreciate feedback from everyone. I encourage you to share your thoughts with the AEA Executive Dir, his board and staff. There personal contact information, address and phone number is compiled here.
A highlight of the Governor's State of the State address was his establishment of a "Teacher's Cabinet" to help advise him on educational issues. He recognized two teachers, Dr Gay Barnes, Alabama Teacher of the Year and one of four nationwide finalist for National Teacher of the Year, and Mr. Gary Raper, one of 40 teachers nationwide who received the Milken Educator Award for excellence in education. In case you don't know, both of these teachers are from Madison City Schools; I'm very proud of these teachers and this model school system.