Riley and AEA at Odds

Tuscaloosa, AL – While Alabama lawmakers consider a special session to address Governor Bob Riley's plan for reform, the Governor's proposals are already under attack by one state organization. But, the Riley administration says the comments made by the Alabama Education Association are a blatant misrepresentation of the truth. Alabama Public Radio's Terri Jenkins reports.

Governor Bob Riley's administration says a recent mailing sent by the Alabama Education Association to its members distorts the Governor's reform plan. Riley spokesperson Jeff Emerson says the mailing gives the inaccurate impression that the plan would eliminate cost of living adjustments for retirees and change retirement benefits for current public employees. Emerson says this is not an unfortunate mistake, but a calculated effort made by A-E-A officials.

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But the A-E-A maintains its communication efforts truthfully represent the Governor's plans for the state. And A-E-A Spokesperson David Stout...

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Stout says his organization's mailing accurately highlights recommendations made by the Governor's committees and by the Business Council of Alabama. Stout says the problems with the reform plan do not lie in Riley's statements, but in what he has failed to mention. According to information published by the A-E-A, Governor Riley plans to end 25-year retirement for public school employees and increase their health insurance payments. Stout says Riley simply is not following through with his promises.

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But the Riley adminstration describes the A-E-A's claims as dishonest and deceitful. Jeff Emerson says although the state is facing troubled economic times, the Governor is working to improve Alabama's education system. He Emerson says Riley is making investments where they are most urgently needed.

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Riley's administration had been trying to secure enough votes to enter into a special session to consider his reform package. However, lawmakers refused to approve one.

For Alabama Public Radio, I'm Terri Jenkins.