As mentioned to you numerous times in this column the State of Alabama revenues are divided into two major funds. Unlike many of our sister states, who have one general fund and most of their tax dollars are unearmarked, our budgets are divided between a general fund and an education fund and most of our tax revenues are earmarked. Indeed the vibrant growth taxes, income and sales, are earmarked for education. Therefore, over the past few decades, due to the earmarking of these two rich veins of revenue, the education budget has incrementally surpassed the general fund in size.

Unfortunately the other functions of state government that live off of the general fund have drawn the short end of the stick. The most urgent needs are highways, prisons and Medicaid. The Medicaid dilemma is a train wreck waiting to happen. They have robbed Peter to pay Paul for about a decade and the chickens are about to come home to roost.

There is speculation inside the Statehouse that a solution is in the works to give relief to Medicaid in the form of new revenue. It would come as a win-win deal where gaming is structured in a way to pay sizable new taxes while at the same time setting up a long-term policing mechanism. This package would be a good start toward remedying Medicaid’s permanent funding needs. However, it is a constitutional amendment and would have to be approved in a statewide vote which would probably be held along with the general election in November of next year. The constitutional amendment should pass the legislature since the legislators will only be voting to let their constituents vote. However, it will be at least a year before the new revenues are felt.

Hopefully the $3.6 billion Exxon-Mobil lawsuit will be settled soon. This windfall will be like manna from heaven when it arrives. It is rumored around the Capital City that the State’s multi-million dollar verdict may be close to being released. Two different Montgomery juries have found Exxon guilty of fraud against Alabama’s taxpayers for underpaying royalty fees due the state. It is awaiting a verdict by the State Supreme Court.

Speaking of the Capital City, Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright won a very impressive reelection victory in late August. He won in a landslide without a runoff over three opponents. His success in Montgomery catapults him onto the statewide scene if he chooses to pursue that path.

Montgomery insiders are still impressed by the coup that Gov. Bob Riley and his ally Bradley Byrne pulled off with the school board approval to stop double-dipping in the Junior College System. This bold and profound move to disallow legislators from holding a junior college job while serving in the legislature will dramatically change the makeup of the legislature after 2010 and could diminish, if not alter, the democratic majority in the Statehouse.

The Chancellor that fathered the entire scandal, Roy Johnson, will be credited with bringing down the democratic legislative majority. His brazen acts of greed and corruption will do more than land him behind bars. Educator legislators seem confident that Byrne and Riley’s proposal will not withstand judicial scrutiny. They need to wake up and look around because the Alabama courts are now republican. The State Supreme Court has eight republicans and one democrat.

Our Republican Attorney General Troy King had to recuse himself from the case for ethical reasons. He approached Johnson about getting a friend a job in the system. Most political observers suggest that it is a good thing that King had to recuse for ethical lapses, otherwise his involvement would probably cause the prosecution to be mishandled.

King’s experience and acumen as a lawyer are not well respected in Montgomery. Obviously the majority of district attorneys do not think much of his performance either. They recently held a press conference in Montgomery to lambaste King for his grandstanding regarding juvenile prosecutions. Forty-one out of forty-two district attorneys rebuked King’s actions. Shelby County District Attorney Robby Owens, a popular republican district attorney for twenty-four years, said King lacked the experience for the job and has never tried a capital murder case in his life.

Although major transgressions have occurred in the junior college scandal, all the junior college presidents should not be painted with the same brush. Most of them have done an exemplary job, especially given the probability that most were pressured to participate in the corruption but refused.