Here is the wording of the proposition we will vote on when we step into the voting booth Tuesday the 9th of September:
"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, establishing the Alabama Excellence Initiative Fund which may be used to fund programs including, but not limited to, the furtherance of excellence in public education, college scholarships, health care benefits for senior citizens and job training programs to attract new high paying jobs and otherwise provide for distributing state tax revenues; to adjust income and property taxes; to establish the General Fund Rainy Day Account; to provide for the replenishment of the General Fund Rainy Day Account and the Education Trust Fund Rainy Day Account." "Yes ( ) No ( )"
Who could refuse to vote for such a thing? It will improve education, provide scholarships, provide health care for seniors, and attract high-paying jobs to the state. And it apparently all comes at no cost. Taxes will merely need to be "adjusted."
Knowing no more than what's on the ballot I might well vote for this proposal. But I do know a little more. For example I know what the company Alfa has said about it in their statement disapproving it.
They said, for instance, that "the plan calls for a record tax increase of $1.2 billion, double what the governor himself says he needs to balance the budget." They said further, that "many believe the tax hike may reach $1.8 billion to $2.0 billion, which would triple the amount said to be needed to balance the budget."
Alfa also pointed out that "the plan does not take into account the $230 million the governor says he has saved since he came into office, nor the $270 million the federal government is sending back to Alabama, nor the estimated $100 million increase from annual reappraisals the governor has ordered. That in itself would almost balance the budget without raising taxes." Let us see if we can capture what Alfa is saying in a slightly more terse form. First, they say that the amount of new taxes the proposed plan would take from us may be as much as $2.0 billion, which would be three times the amount the proponents tell us they need to solve the "crisis" in the state.
Second, they say that, when account is taken of money already cut from the budget, as well as other money expected to be available, the deficit practically vanishes. In other words the breathlessly announced terrible "crisis" evaporates.
Alfa is either right, or close to right. The picture they paint is certainly more realistic than the surreal impression given by the words on the ballot.
I suspect that this contrast, the contrast between the words of Alfa and the words of the ballot, is accurately suggestive of how the two sides in the coming battle will operate: One in the realm of fuzziness, the other in the realm of clarity. The words on the ballot are short on facts and long on feelings. Those from Alfa are starkly factual. The struggle will be between the cloud-makers and the sunshine brigade.
I must tell you that when it comes to making an important decision I strongly prefer the facts.
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Madison County, Place 1
State Executive Committee
See attached Satire. I sent this to the Huntsville Times, but I doubt if they print it.
Keep up the good work.
I am really perplexed. I have not talked to a single active and knowledgeable Republican that is not disgusted, perplexed, and/or roaring mad. It was a complete betrayal of all the principles we thought we were voting for.
I even talked with a North Carolinian today in Raleigh, who knew of the astounding betrayal. This will be ruinous to the Republican Party in Alabama, unless our state legislators and the State Committee voice some strong objections.
I am personally outraged at the Governor's implications that higher tax brackets, higher taxes, etc are "more Christian." The stated reason for a lot of these moves is to avoid a lottery, but his programs and taxes will make Alabamians cry out for tax relief very soon, making a lottery inevitable. His rationale for such a big increase over what is needed includes a statement that he hopes Alabamians will receive the biggest tax refund in history in four years. This is either naive stupidity or an attempt to manipulate people he believes to be gullible and uniformed.
I am also very concerned about the plan to give everyone with a B average a college scholarship. I think that will be a runaway spending plan with undreamed of unintentional consequences. I am particularly concerned as Chairman of he Board of a Christian Classical School that it will erode grading standards everywhere, and put students from Christian and other private schools that strive for some excellence at an unfair disadvantage- Not to mention that we will be paying more taxes to pay for schools we have chosen by conscious not to use.
I did notice that in addition to a B average an ACT score of 20 will be required. This is only an average score, but an improvement. It would theoretically limit college scholarships to about 50% of high school graduates, or not much more. Still it is going to be an enormous number. The ACT score probably will not last because some minorities average only 17 to 18 on the ACT. Although the ACT requirement is an ameliorating feature of the bill (reduces it from terribly stupid to just plain stupid), it may be a feature that can be used to defeat it, once some of the minority leaders who would ordinarily fall all over themselves to support the bill realize that minorities will not get as many scholarships proportionately as whites because of the ACT score requirement.
I wish I had voted for Steve Windom in the primary. I wish there was some way to recall the governor.
P. S. I somehow have the feeling that our new Governor and his chief advisors are lacking in intelligence and economic education. Either that or there is something very rotten in Montgomery as well as Denmark.
[Mike sruggs is a frequent internet author. Read his satire here.]
Less than a year ago, in October of 2002, Governor Riley was opposing taxes. He was proud to receive the Hero of the Taxpayer award. What caused him to change his mind?
It is very interesting that the Republicans are "out Democrationg" the Democrats. Keep up the great work. Let me know what I can do to help.
Please unsubscribe me from your goofy newsletter.
I appreciate the work you are doing to defeat this tax plan. I hope to be gathering the troops to fight this battle.
I'm sure you and I don't agree on ever nuainse of the tax proposals, But as I told the Governor, The first Justification they had to present to me was why my constituents have to foot the bill for what is largely underfunding at the local level, I even told the Governor that we were not about to fund Crenshaw County or Montgomery any more.
If you look at the public affairs research council funding charts you will see that we are at mid level in funding compared with the rest of the country, but 48th in local support...that in itself was enough for me...I offered 2 amendments on the floor relative to this issue, but the governor's crew opposed it, and I know you'll get a kick out of this, but I received no help from AEA on this issue either...They were commited to stay out of it and leave the Governor's package as it was.
Sadly, My friend, I think we all, on both sides of the political spectrum, were sold out to Alabama Power, BCA, AEA, and, despite the protest from ALFA and Timber industry, they at least had a seat at the bargaining table. Homeowners had no help...Again, I attempted to at least Double the Homestaed Exemption from the $50,000 the Governor proposed to $100, 000 but was defeated yet again.
The defeat wasn't as bad as the 2 months of pleading with the governor's office to compromise on local support and homeowner concerns, to no avail, while "others" had the administration's ear...anyway, there were problems with all the bills, some which haven't been reported, some which you and I may disagree...But I think we both agree "selling" eliminating taxes on the first $20, 000 in income. Then hitting people on property, utilities (Yet another story) and that god awful tax on Services i.e. Oil changes, Lawnmower repair, heating/ac repair etc. is a sick joke on the poor people of this state.
Is there going to be an organized effort-and led by whom- to defeat this package. Let me know so I can join in.
I certainly agree with your letter to Mr. Sanderson. I have a suspicion that the democrats and Paul Hubbert have set Riley up for an easy defeat should he seek reelection. As you probably have already noted, Roger Bedford has also maintained a consistent vote against the increased taxes and we all know how liberal he has been
I stopped voting Democrat many years ago due to the moral slide of the party platform. I have stood solidly with the Republican candidates for a long time now. I registered to vote when I was 18 and I am now 42. I despise higher taxes but that is not why I vote Republican. It's the higher morals in their platform. However I am growing increasingly concerned over our chairman's courting the homosexual vote. As a conservative Christian that type of activity along with catering to the abortion industry is what drove me from the democratic party long ago. Now as far as on the state level goes. Our Governor has given me no reason to distrust him at this point. If he says we are in such a mess that there is no way around raising taxes even after cutting waste and working in accountability measures then I am willing to stand with him until someone shows me a better way. If this measure fails you will hear the drum beat of the lottery crowd again. I for one am strongly opposed to that. I voted against the lottery before and will gladly do it again. Sometimes doing the right and needed thing is not popular and also can cause some pain. A tetanus shot hurts when you get it but if you have stepped on a rusty nail the alternative is worse. And Alabama has the rusty nail of long time smoke and mirror budgeting rammed into it's foot by long time legislators. Lets get the problem taken care of now and at the next elections. If you have a solution I would love to hear it. If not, get behind our governor and stop undermining him.
These are excellent questions regarding what I consider the most important thing that we can bring to the people of this State: principles. If we have principles behind some parts of this plan, then fine (see Reagan's first term as Governor). If not, we are not acting in accordance with the best traditions of the GOP.
Our organization met with a representative from the Gov's office last night. Nobody on the Committee was buying what she was selling. In fact, we pitied her for the position in which the Governor placed her.
Good job Hugh. I am as outraged as you. I supported Riley with serious dollars for me with the thought that he would be a better steward than Siegleman when it came to taxes. How wrong I was. Now I am looking for ways to defeat this outrage of a proposal.
Very intelligent and well said, Hugh. Right on!!
Keep the fight going my friend. To think i actually worked my butt off to get Mr. Riley elected disgusts me. I have found no one so far in my circle of friends and associates that will support the tax package.
What a great letter Hugh! I am sick and tired of the RINOS in Montgomery voting to raise my taxes.