Governor Riley hits key topics during State of State Address

Reporter: Eileen Jones

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Jobs for the jobless, saving high performing education programs and ethics reform.  Governor Riley hit several hot button issues in his annual State of the State address.

He saved his most impassioned remarks for the end when he talked about efforts to expand and tax gambling.  Mr. Riley told lawmakers not to waste their time on the subject!

The Governor says he wants to completely overhaul the ethics code in Alabama.  There have been attempts to reform the code before, but the bills never made it out of committee.

Governor Riley says, "This year i hope the negative attention caused by scandals at the state and local levels will finally prompt the legislature to act."  He wants to change the code so that lobbyists will be required to give full disclosure of money spent on elected officials.  And give the ethics commission subpoena power

Senator Wendell Mitchell of Luverne says, "I'm all for getting involved and making our ethics laws stronger."

State Representative Mike Hubbard agrees, "I'm excited about his package and looking forward to be able to vote for it."

State Representative Richard Lindsey says, "I got to see the details. The proof's in the pudding you know."

The governor also wants the legislature to to protect programs like the reading initiative and math and science iniative when considering cuts in the education budget for next year.

Rep. Lindsey says, "When you're talking about cutting out 700-million dollars, i think all facets of education may have to bare some part of the burden. Including those things he asked to protect? absolutely."

The Governor also wants to help the unemployed by offering tax incentives to busineses that hire them.

"Ladies and gentlemen, gambling is not the answer to our problems in the State of Alabama....", exclaims Governor Riley.

What he does not want is gambling.

State Representative John Knight of Montgomery says, "I don't know where it came from that it's a priority because we've made our agenda for the first couple of weeks. Gaming is not on the agenda. Maybe it's a priority in his mind but not necessarily the legislature's mind." "I think we ought to tax them yes." "I can't say it will come up but they ought to be taxed."

Going back to the Governor's ethics reforms, he says Alabama is the only state in the nation without one tool and that's subpoena power for its ethics commission.

There were no specifics on possible cuts to the state's two budgets and the programs they support.