Published: January 7, 2009

Here we go again.

Another year with public education administrators struggling to keep Alabama’s schools operating.

Another year when a far too lean education budget is adopted, only to be slashed by double digits less than halfway through the fiscal year.

Another year during which the state’s Medicaid officials expect there will come a day when the money runs out.

Another year of understaffed state correction facilities and warehousing of state prisoners in crowded county jails.

Another year of highway patrols stretched thin by an underfunded Department of Public Safety.

Another year with the illusion of being poor, and having all our state’s ills blamed on that perception of poverty.

However, what our state lacks most is a legislative body with the will to make our state prosper.

Our state is held down by a brick-like tome called the Alabama Constitution of 1901. It was conceived as a tool to keep power in the hands of legislators and favored the privileged classes and land barons.

If the Alabama Legislature could muster the will to authorize a constitutional convention in which delegates could draft a new constitution for Alabama, we could cast off the yoke and construct a guiding document that rectifies problems we’ve been saddled with for years.

We could have home rule, allowing local elected bodies greater latitude in governance.

We could overhaul the tax code, creating a more equitable system of taxation that provides a more stable revenue stream that’s not possible in a system that’s heavily dependent on sales and use taxes.

The state’s budgets could be freed of earmarks that prevent leaders from putting funds where they’re needed most.

Lack of will — that’s what keeps us poor. Every year, we face the same problems. And every year, the Legislature finds a way to avoid facing those problems.

Don’t expect to see those important issues addressed this year, either. We predict the legislative session will be spent wrangling over gambling.

And when the dust settles, we’ll be the same as we were before it was stirred up — poor, but proud.

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