Alabama
3:20 pm
Tue September 9, 2003

Alabama Voters Reject Riley's Tax Plan

Montgomery, AL – Governor Bob Riley's 1-point-2 billion dollar tax plan has been rejected overwhelmingly tonight.

Voters agreed with opponents who say Alabama needs spending controls rather than the largest tax increase in state history.

The Republican governor promoted the tax package -- the largest percentage tax boost proposed in any state -- as the way to get Alabama off the bottom of many national education rankings.

But opponents -- including leaders of Riley's own party -- say Alabama politicians need to cut their wasteful spending rather than raise taxes.

David Lanoue, chairman of the political science department at the University of Alabama, says opponents were able to play on the voters' cynicism about politicians in Alabama that the tax increase was not necessary.

Riley repeatedly told voters in last year's election for governor that he never supported a tax increase during his six years as a congressman.

But when he became governor in January, he said he "had no choice" in proposing a tax increase to alleviate the state's worst budget deficit since the Great Depression.

Without a tax hike, he says, budget cuts would be so deep that state government would become dysfunctional.

The Alabama Legislature is expected to be called into special session in about a week to deal with the red ink as the October 1st start of the new fiscal year approaches.