Baxley sees traditional Lt. Governor role

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 8, 2002

Baxley is the Democratic nominee for Alabama Lt. Governor. She will face State Senator Bill Armistead in the November 5 election.

Current Lt. Governor Steve Windom has been a vocal opponent of Governor Don Siegelman. He is so much an opponent that the state has had the appearance at times of a divided government.

Baxley sees the role of the Lt. Governor in what she describes as its traditional, constitutional role &045; as simply an impartial presiding officer of the State Senate.

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The role is to see that each of the 35 senators can fairly review whatever issue is at hand. "…I am not going to be adamantly opposed or for an issue being debated," she said.

Baxley said Armistead has declared that he will fight a lottery "with every fiber of my body." How can senators opposed to his view expect to get a fair hearing if Armistead became the Lt. Governor? she asked.

The governor has the responsibility to come forward with an agenda on what issues are going to be addressed, she said. "Then, of course, all the senators and house members can introduce legislation their constituents want to pass."

Recently Lt. Governors have come with their own package of laws. It was never intended to work that way, she said. The Lt. Governor is meant to serve more as a judge of the precedings, allowing time and debate on particular issues.

Baxley’s mission, if elected, is to run the senate as orderly and mannerly as possible.

The Lt. Governor is also not an assistant governor, she said. They assume none of the governor’s duties unless the governor vacates the office.

Although she thinks the Lt. Governor should not force an opinion of one side or the other of an issue, her opinion of particular issues will be addressed during the coming campaign.

Baxley gave her thoughts on the condition of people in the Black Belt. "We have two Alabamas: the Alabama that is moving forward, and we have the Alabama stuck in time," she said.

There is almost a Catch 22 (in Black Belt)," she said. "No highway system going through there. Therefore, you don’t have any businesses coming in, and you don’t have jobs for the people. They aren’t able to make a decent living.

…Transportation is a major issue about development." Alabama needs to pursue federal funds for development, Baxley said. The state should stop looking at the region as a place with no industry, then say "so why put in a highway?"

The Black Belt is an underdeveloped region of the state. State officials must "go to the trouble to get it ready for development to occur.

Baxley’s view of the state’s education funding as state treasurer: "we’re in a terrible economic downturn."

If you cut out all the waste in the state educational system, as some have considered as a solution, "we still would not have nearly enough money for the schools."

The citizens of Alabama are going to have to have a reality check, she said. "I believe in the goodness of the people, and I believe that people genuinely care about opportunities for our children."

Partially due to the cynicism of the political process, Baxley said citizens don’t trust the government with what they all ready have and are not willing to give more in taxes. "If will not happen except by choice of the people….The people have not been willing to vote any additional taxes."

Government leaders need to show the people the true situation in dollars and cents, she said, and show them the need in schools. "It is just alarming to me that every kid can’t have a textbook to take home to do their homework."