Lawmakers plan for bi-partisan action - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Lawmakers plan for bi-partisan action

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

State lawmakers are back for the start of the 2012 regular legislative session. Republicans are anxious to hit the ground running since they have a super majority in the house and senate.  But that doesn't mean they aren't willing to work with Democrats, especially on one key issue--job creation. 

"That's something I felt we focused too little on in this last session," says Democratic Representative Joe Hubbard.

"Economic development and job creation is not a partisan issue...it's an Alabama issue," adds Republican Representative Greg Wren.

Both Hubbard and Wren agree putting Alabamians back to work is the biggest challenge facing lawmakers. And it shouldn't involve party politics.

"We welcome our Democratic participation in this process and we're wide open because we know jobs are the number one issue," adds Wren.

"We've got an opportunity to really make a difference in the acceleration of job growth," says Hubbard.

Alabama's unemployment rate is currently 8.1%, significantly lower than the 10% last summer.

So, while they're working to create jobs in the private sector, they may be forced to cut state workers to balance the general fund budget.

One resident wonders if that's the right approach.

"It may be a compromise. I would think the more jobs we can keep, the better for the economy because you're not spending any money if you're not making any money," says Daleville resident, Mary Cavanaugh.

In fact, she'd sacrifice more of her own paycheck for it.

"I would be willing to help with taxes if it meant keeping jobs," adds Cavanaugh.

But perhaps the thing most Alabamians want is just "what is best for our state," says Dee Turberville.

It's a request that requires bi-partisan action.

"My hope is that we've gotten a lot of the politics out of the way," says Hubbard.

"We'll have our bug tussles, we'll have our fights. We've always had those, but they won't be impediments to putting people back to work," adds Wren.

Some other key items this session include revisions to the immigration law, and possibly a big debate on charter schools. Many current and former teachers say they're against charter schools if it takes money away from already existing school systems. Still some believe they can be highly effective.

Lawmakers say they're excited to get back to the state house. Many say this is a pivotal year because of the financial pressures facing the state.

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