Report: Legislature already at work on Plan B
By By Tim Reeves
Boone Newspaper Service
MONTGOMERY – Gov. Bob Riley may not have had a well-defined plan during last year's gubernatorial election, but his $1.2 billion tax and accountability plan, scheduled to go before voters on Sept. 9, has sure made up for it.
Since unveiling his plan weeks ago – a plan designed to offset an expected $675 million state budget shortfall – opposition has been intense and alternatives have been few. But, one rumored alternative is drawing harsh words from Riley.
Reports have indicated that members of the Alabama Legislature leadership have already been working on a tax increase if voters vote down Riley's plan. And, that tax increase would be able to be approved by the Alabama House and Senate without voter approval.
"I have heard about a plan for new taxes," Riley said Thursday in an interview with The Outlook. "But if did not include the accountability and reform ideas that are built into our plan than I will not support it – in fact, I would do everything I could to defeat it."
Riley said it is upsetting to him to see opposition groups using the argument that any new money raised by Riley's tax plan would not be regulated and would be spent by Montgomery "bureaucrats."
During his March 4, 2003 State of the State Address, Riley said he would "not entertain the idea of additional taxes until we reform the policies and practices that have created the problem we face today" – a statement the Tax Accountability Coalition, a group formed to oppose Riley's plan has used as ammunition.
"I said I would not support additional taxes unless we change the way business is done in Montgomery," Riley said. "That is why our plan is as detailed and extensive as it is. The tax money raised is a big part to the plan, but the reform and accountability portions of the plan are designed to change Alabama for good."
The last day to register for the Sept. 9 vote is Aug. 29.