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The Millbrook Independent

May 24th
Going in the wrong direction
Written by News Desk   
Saturday, 16 August 2014 08:40

artparkerBy Art Parker, Editor

Announced last week was the resignation of Josh Blades, Chief of Staff for the Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard. I failed to mention this last week because of space limitations, but I still find it interesting that Blades' resignation happened on the same day that the news broke about another possible illegal action regarding Hubbard. Blades supposedly decided to move on because he and his wife are expecting another child and thought it was a good idea he moved into the private sector.

What was revealed about Blade's departure was the extraordinary amount of money he was paid by the State. This week the Alabama Political Reporter said, "State finance records show Blades raked in $109,801 in 2013, more than Lt. Governor Kay Ivey ($75,366), Treasurer Young Boozer ($85,608), Auditor Samantha Shaw ($85,969), and any State lawmaker. At that level of pay, Blades earned five times the income of an average Alabamian ($23,587)."

Go to the private sector with that kind of pay check? Really? I find all of this, especially considering the timing, a little too much to swallow. To me it sounds like Blades knows the Hubbard ship is sinking and he is getting off faster than Leonardo DiCaprio bailed from the Titanic.

In other unpleasant news for taxpayers regarding Hubbard, the Speaker's staff saw pay raises and even an expansion of payroll while state workers' pay was frozen. A recent news report states that Hubbard's office gave raises to its staffers in 2012 and 2013...even though cost-of-living increases for state workers have been frozen for more than half of a decade.

Equally interesting in Alabama news is the latest report by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama. I found this by reading the Sunday column by John Archibald of the Birmingham News/al.com. I think Archibald is the best columnist in the state especially with his smarty pants comments when he properly spanks politicians for their corruption or stupidity. Borrowing Archibald's words that best describe the report, it was revealed that by "raising Alabama's high school graduation rate by just 10 points – from 80 to 90 percent – it would produce an economic impact to the state's economy similar to landing an industrial mega-project." Modeling for the study was provided by AUM Economics Professor Keivan Deravi.

Archibald went on to explain the impact of a higher graduation rate. "The study said if Alabama reaches the 90 percent graduation rate goal by 2020, it will pump up the state's economic output that year alone by $430 million. Which is, by the way, more than the state spends a year on its whole prison system."

Yes, education is that important and it is important even for those that do not pursue four year degrees. We need those with bachelor's degrees, we need those that can serve the economy and society with a two year associate's degree, and we certainly need those with trade skills. In other words we need a universally prepared work force and it takes all levels of education to get that done.

Alabama is no different than the rest of the nation. We are a nation of consumers and not producers. Production, not consumption, made this country great, yet we continue to go in the wrong direction because of government enablement and inadequate education that leads to less and less production. That brings me to the importance of our community college system and the opportunity to properly exploit dual enrollment, a process that moves young people forward and prepares them to contribute and earn a living sooner. There will be a report in The Independent very soon, possibly next week, regarding dual enrollment and what it can mean to Elmore County, especially if we can provide community college services to county citizens.

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