A worthwhile cause

Published 3:04 am Saturday, April 5, 2003

By By Paul Keane
Here over the next few weeks, you're going to see some interesting stories in our paper. We hope the stories not only entertain, but also inform you of a very big problem developing in the state.
A series of stories are going to appear in our Wednesday editions over the next four or five weeks. These stories are going to take an in-depth look at what Governor Bob Riley is doing to trim the fat from state budgets as he and the legislature face a $500 million shortfall in revenue.
The series will also take a good look at the constitution for this state, a document that is more than 100 years old and that many people feel is outdated and in need of revision. Agree or disagree, it's an issue that at least needs to be looked at and studied, and these stories will take a look at that.
The final phase of the series will take a look at alternative funding issues. Read into that what you will, but some new funding is most likely going to need to be found before it is all said and done. You simply don't find $500 million worth of cuts in any budget, no matter how much fat is trimmed.
If you look at the overall picture, the governor is doing what he said he would do – find ways to cut the budget so that the revenue shortfall is not as great. He's done that through various means already, including cutting the per diem for state travel, bringing in all state vehicles used by employees and by fighting against "pass-through" pork. Some of these measures will stick, while some of them won't, but at least the effort is being made.
Riley says he can't ask the public for more revenue (i.e., additional taxes) without first showing the public that state government is being run as efficiently as possible. He's to be commended for those efforts.
And, to be honest, every budget has some fat in it. You will never get rid of every ounce of fat in a governmental budget. The same holds true for regular businesses as well.
But the governor and his staff are making efforts to show the public that something has to be done. As a community newspaper, it is our job to inform the public of what is going on and how it affects the community. That is the reasoning behind this series which will begin next week.
Some people are going to agree with what is written while others won't. The challenge here is to present a balanced account of facts about the shape the state and its government are in right now. Some of the facts will bore you while some may surprise you.
But it's something that needs to be said, and it's the job of a newspaper to make sure the message is sent out. That's the reasoning behind this series of stories.
Some may accuse us of pushing an agenda, and we are. The agenda is a simple one – to inform the public and to help pursue and encourage what is best for the community. That crosses all party lines and doesn't smack of partisanship.
We like to call it an agenda of facts.
Paul Keane is Publisher of The Atmore. He can be reached by phone at 368-2123 or by e-mail at paul.keane@atmoreadvance.com.

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