Riley lauds Shelby County during visit

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Gov. Bob Riley is proud of Shelby County.

He made that known last week while speaking to about 100 people at a Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce meeting.

&uot;What you’ve accomplished in Shelby County, I hope becomes a pattern or template for the rest of this state,&uot; he said.

&uot;The reason you have this exponential growth is so many people want to share…&uot;

He commented on several local strengths, including public education and &uot;planned growth.&uot;

&uot;If you look at (Interstate) 65 today and all of the growth that is out there, it’s growing as fast as anywhere in the Southeast today.&uot;

The only major negative he mentioned was traffic.

&uot;It’s the only limiting factor to what Shelby County can and will accomplish,&uot; he said.

The stretch of Highway 280 that runs through Inverness and Chelsea need to be addressed, according to the governor.

&uot;It takes time to solve a problem like 280,&uot; Riley said. &uot;We’ve been working on this since the first time I went to Congress, but it is solvable.&uot;

Riley spent much of his speech commenting on state economic development efforts-particularly with the auto industry. Mercedes, Honda and Hyundai have all brought thousands of jobs to the state through their respected companies, and automotive suppliers that also chose to locate in the state.

&uot;We have built an international reputation,&uot; he said. &uot;(Mercedes) has (plants) all over the United States and Europe, and they will tell you the benchmark is in Vance, Alabama.&uot;

In fact, Alabama recently was named the best among 17 states for economic development efforts.

&uot;We’re having people all over the world come to Alabama, and decide to produce a product here, or build a plant here,&uot; Riley said. &uot;We have the best development office in the state. When you have the best and brightest people making decisions about this state, and ultimately the future of this state, you’ll be successful.&uot;

Riley said Alabama might still land more automotive jobs in the future.

&uot;There are still automotive companies interested in doing business in North America…The South will be in a great position, and Alabama will be in an even greater position.&uot;

Budget debate

Riley cited financial concerns as reasons why he vetoed the state’s education budget that included a 6 percent raise for teachers and other educational employees. State lawmakers overrode Riley’s veto, and the measure passed Monday night.

&uot;If we plan a 6 percent raise this year, it’s going to be almost impossible to meet those goals next year without going into proration with the education budget,&uot; he said last week.

&uot;This is not a complicated situation … I won’t do it.&uot;

Riley said educations programs such as distance learning and the Alabama Reading Initiative could face cuts with the budget. He pushed for a four percent pay raise for teachers.

&uot;If we pay too much for a payraise this year … if we go into proration, you can’t cut salaries, you can’t prorate the amount of gas it takes to run a bus, you can’t prorate the heat and air for the classroom.&uot;