Legislative session, tough decisions near

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Legislature returns Tuesday for an election-year session focusing on tight budgets, government ethics and charter schools.

Election-bound legislators are accustomed to boosting their re-election chances by giving raises to state employees and school workers. They've done it in the last five elections, but it's impossible this year due to dwindling tax revenue. Instead, legislators are talking about the possibility of layoffs and furloughs.

Gov. Bob Riley and state school Superintendent Joe Morton are pushing for the legalization of charter schools, which the Alabama Education Association opposes.

The Republican governor is also pushing a package of government ethics bills that he says most legislators endorsed in their 2006 elections, but never passed. Some Democrats insist the package include a ban on most no-bid contracts by the governor.

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