Posted by William Nunnelley on 2003-04-14

Alabama Governor Bob Riley urged law students to "buy into the process of changing the Alabama constitution" during an appearance at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law Monday.

Riley said past attempts to change Alabama's antiquated constitution had failed partly because they were attempts to change the whole document.

"That's a difficult approach," the governor told several hundred students attending the law school's Cordell Hull Speakers Forum. He plans to work for revision by changing three or four things initially, he said.

"Alabama's excessive earmarking of state funds is the most ridiculous concept I have ever seen," he said. Alabama earmarks 92 cents of every dollar for specific uses, while Georgia earmarks only six cents and the national average is 21 cents, he said.

"That means raising taxes is the only way to solve problems," he said. "One of the first things to change is excessive earmarking."

Riley also said he would work for a "home rule" provision which would let individual counties have something to say about how to solve their funding problems. He also said he would work to implement a line item veto system.

Riley also spoke to another 400 hundred Samford undergraduate students during a program honoring new members of Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership society.

"Thank you for your trip to the Black Belt," he told the students, praising their efforts to stage a Spring Fun Fest for Perry County residents and to assist in community service projects there Saturday.

Riley said Alabama state government is joining Mississippi state officials and federal officials in both states to form a joint Alabama-Mississippi economic center to help solve economic problems in the Black Belt.

"That's what government is all about," he said, "doing things we cannot do individually." ODK initiated Riley into its Samford chapter at the close of the program.