A Community of Legislators

Well, I feel silly. A couple days ago I expressed amused shock that the Alabama House Majority leader was also on the payroll of two state community colleges. It seemed to me a rather cozy relationship, since the Majority Leader exercises considerable control over the state budget and appropriations to these schools. Well, it turns out that about ONE-THIRD of the legislators in Alabamaââ?¬â??or their immediate family membersââ?¬â??are employed by community colleges in the state. Half the members of the Education Committees in both the House and the Senate (or their relatives) derive significant income from the state’s two-year colleges. No wonder the colleges’ budget has increased 50% since 2001. And it isn’t just two-year colleges. One prominent GOP state Senator is also a public school teacher, drawing a full-time salary even though his legislative work forces him to miss 105 of the school’s 180 teaching days. Governor Riley is making noises about prohibiting these relationships. Many legislators are crying that this would be unconstitutional. I hope their argument generates LOTS of public debate.