Text of Part I of Governor/Chancellor News Conference on Policy Recommendations

This part of the news conference covers the opening remarks of both Governor Riley and Chancellor Byrne and the chancellor's remarks on the flextime policy, including how it would impact legislators and the general comments concerning the prohibition of elected officials being employed by the two-year system and how that impacts current officials.

This is a rough transcript.

Governor Riley:

First I want to tell him how much I appreciate all the hard work he's put in over the last month over there.  It's absolutely incredible now to travel around this state talk to people especially in our two-year program and see how enthusiastic they are about the leadership that he's provided and all of the opportunities we have.

Somebody asked me a moment ago if this was a traveling road show and it's not, but we have had an opportunity over the last few weeks to do some significant things, none more significant than what he will announce today.

I'm here today to encourage all  the members of the State Board of Education to seriously think about listening to the recommendations the chancellor's going to make.  You have to make a determination for yourself.  Are we going to go ahead and defend the status quo or are we going to make the fundamental changes that I think are absolutely necessary for our two-year program to move to a different level.

Now everyone always has a problem with change.  It's just a part of our human nature.  But if you think about it, nothing can grow nothing can become all it can be without change and that's what we're talking about here today.

Now when we go before the board, there's going to be full, open debate and discussion about all of the aspects of this; but I think this is a great fundamental start to reform the system.

Chancellor Byrne

Thank you, sir.  Thank you, governor.  And I appreciate not only your presence here today but your leadership on the Board and in this state in light of what we're doing in the system right now.  I appreciate your leadership, so thank you.

What has been going on for the last couple of months with regard to the policies that we passed out to you today is that we've had a large number of people researching things, talking about things, trying to make sure we've done our homework right, which we try to do for every policy.  But the policies we have now involve some pretty fundamental things to our system and we're going to make sure we have it right.

So, what I'd like to do today is go through each one of them give you just sort of a general understanding....

Each of these policies are a recommendation to the Alabama State Board of Education.  The ultimate decision maker on these policies is the board itself...The Board will be in this room on Monday, whenever they're finished with K-12 meeting and can make their way over here and will have a work session on it where they will discuss the recommendation.

The board will actually gather for a regular meeting in its postsecondary role on August 23 and that will be the time at which they actively consider the first of these recommended policies.

So that's the issue timeline....

Flex schedule

This is the one that I brought to the board at the July Board meeting and laid on the table.  And it's a little different from what I originally proposed to the Board, so let me give you a little background on it.

In 2002 the State Ethics Commission issued an opinion that essentially said that you can't double dip unless you're doing so under a flex schedule or some recognized type policy like that.  This board never adopted a policy on flex schedule rather a prior chancellor issued a directive.  Now, a directive from a chancellor does not rise to the level of a policy, although a chancellor has certain areas in which he can issue a directive and the chancellor can issue guidelines under policies that have been adopted by the Board.

But this Board has never adopted a policy on flextime.  So, the policy that we're coming forward with in our recommendation, which is 609.04, would be our flex policy.  And what it says is this,  You cannot use flextime to do work outside of your job with the  two-year college system if it's work for which you're being compensated or receiving expense reimbursement.

Now that is not specific to state officials.  It could be local elected officials; it could be people working in the private sector; it could apply to anything that would be work outside of your work in the two-year college system.

It could be an instructor who's moonlighting, an instructor who's providing consulting services.  We have one member of our system that serves on an industrial development board that receives compensation for serving on an industrial development board.

We have one employee in our system who is a county coroner, who when he has to go out and perform his duties as a coroner.  So it doesn't apply just to state officials.  It's to any employee.  Now, you can still use flex time for other purposes.  It's not limiting flex time for people who need flextime to deal with a family situation or with some other situation that could come up on the job.

Now, the key thing here is...can use flex time.  We said you can use personal,  unpaid leave.  But your personal unpaid leave would be limited to 10 working days, which would be 80 working hours.  And if this is adopted we will put out the guidelines to tell them how they need to keep up with paperwork to account for the 80 hours.

Now, I've had some questions already, so I'm going to go ahead and address this.  People are going to ask me, how would this work with the Legislature.  The Legislature as you know meets 30 legislative days in its regular session.  There are committee days in addition to those anywhere from 10-15 depending upon...So as you can see, 10 unpaid days are not going to equal 10 committee days.  There is a way, if you are a member of the Legislature to take part-time and choose your days on a judicious basis so there'd be some days where you could not make it to the Legislature, where you could still serve in the Legislature and comply with this policy.  It would be very difficult to do so, but it is not impossible.

So while this flextime policy would have a pretty significant limiting effect on legislators, it would not make it impossible for them to serve in the Legislature.  That's the flextime policy.

Section 220.01 - Prohibited Employment of Elected Officials does apply to legislators and other state elected officials and here's what it does.  It says no new employees who are legislators.  It says none of the employees who are presently legislators can receive a promotion while in the legislature and it says no one can continue on with contractual employment.  In other words, you have a contract for ...services with a member of the system, that contract has to be terminated as quickly as you possibly can under its terms.

And then finally it says if you are a member of the Legislature and an employee in the system, you must make your choice at the end of your term, which would be in 2010.

You can run and serve in the Legislature, but at that point in time you would not be able to continue to be employed in the system or can choose not to run again and remain an employee of the system.  But, it does those four things.

Not let me say this.  I've had some people ask me, well are you concerned about a lawsuit.  Well, in our work on this we presumed that we would be tested judicially on that policy and on the flextime policy.  We are confident that these two policies, the way they have been drafted, if they are adopted this way can be and will be upheld judicially.

That was a key part of the determination that we made, because we had to make the assumption...that there would some judicially (steps?) on it.