By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
On Sunday, former Gov. Bob Riley was credited with authoring an opinion piece extolling the virtues of the Alabama Accountability Act. Riley opens by writing, “It is all about freedom. It is only about freedom.”
Riley seems to want the people of Alabama to know that he wakes up every morning worrying about the future of education in our state.
Riley, who now serves as lobbyist-in-chief for special interests in the State, knows that there are millions to be made off of the AAA, and he wants his share. So, if Riley says it’s about freedom, then he means freedom for him and his kin to make big bucks.
Riley, wants people to believe that he started one of the State’s eight Scholarship Grant Organization (SGO), so that he could help poor children. The facts look very different. Riley has joined forces with the Godfather of Florida’s school choice cabal, in order to shorten the learning curve.
Riley’s partner is John Kirtley, a successful venture capitalist whose SGO last year made 6.3 million managing Florida’s scholarship fund. Like Riley, Kirtley, uses his political clout to elect legislators who will do his bidding.
Of course Riley says that he is merely a volunteer with the Opportunity Scholarship Fund, and that he receives no pay for being the Chairman. This is like a Seventh Avenue pimp saying he works for the pleasure of seeing the working girls get a leg-up. What Riley doesn’t say is that he has found another way for government to make him richer. He also fails to mention that these scholarships cost schools and students all over the State.
Under the current law, corporations and individuals can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to these SGOs. These are tax dollars that will not go to the State’s education trust fund to be spend throughout the State, but will be in the hands of men like Riley to handout as they see fit.
The former governor also doesn’t acknowledge that when the 2013-14 education budget was being put together by the legislature, they set aside $25 million to offset the impact of scholarships. This is $25 million that could have been used to purchase textbooks, hired teachers or to lower middle school class size.
Riley says he is here to champion choice for those who can’t help themselves. He wants us to think he is one of the good guys, a benefactor. So, far, only 52 students statewide chose to transfer from a failing school to a private school. The State has set aside $25 million so that’s $480,769 per child for what? Little matters as long as Riley gets his cut.
Oh, Bob you sexy beast.
You woo us with your words, while sliding your hand up our skirt to see how much to charge for the merchandise.