Local citizens want details of tax hike

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Governor Bob Riley unveiled a new tax plan Monday night in a speech from the executive office of the State Capitol.

He proposed a comprehensive government reform package with "real accountability."

He asked for citizens "to invest in our future to finally move Alabama forward."

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The package is intended to increase funding for education, senior health care and state prisons.

As soon as Riley had finished his speech, commercials from the Alabama Coalition Against a Tax Increase branded the governor as "Billion Dollar Bob."

Hill feels more confident about something being done now than in the past. "The problem is real," he said, "and there are too many people are putting their political future on the line, especially Riley. He wouldn’t be doing that just playing games."

The county superintendent was interested in Riley’s plan relief for college tuition. There is also a plan for a pre-kindergarten program.

Not only will there possibly be a change in the classification of state property taxes, but the package may address "local input to education," be it from property or sales tax or a combination, Joiner said.

Can an accountability package convince voters who think there is waste in education? "Most people trust their own school system," Hill said. "A lot of times they don’t trust another school system. That’s pretty much nationwide."

Some small systems may have to consolidated with others to meet accountability requirements, Hill said.

Attention also needs to be directed to legislators’ pet pork barrel projects, Hallmark said. "We certainly could have used some of that money to go toward keeping a teacher hired or…a support personnel position."

Joiner is concerned about the infighting by various interest groups such as Alfa, Alabama Forestry Commission and banking groups. The commissioner is a former lobbyist. "I have never seen a division like it is right now over issues," he said.

Joiner will be going to a meeting this morning with the Legislative team with the County Commission Association to learn more about the governor’s package.