Guest column

Published 8:59 am Monday, September 1, 2003

By By J. Elbert Peters
Some political pundits say it is inconsistent for Republicans to oppose Gov. Bob Riley's $1.2 billion tax plan when actually the reverse is true; it is inconsistent for Republicans to support the plan.
The Republican Party advocates lower taxes and smaller government. Unfortunately, Gov. Riley's plan is inconsistent with both of these principles.
I served as Alabama Republican party chairman from 1992-1995. During the lead-up to the elections in 1994, then Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., pushed a $1 billion plan called "Alabama First," a tax and education reform plan similar to the one developed for Gov. Riley.
It should come as no surprise that I opposed that plan and actively worked to defeat it and its author. Many of the same groups and individuals who pushed the Jim Folsom plan are also involved in the Bob Riley plan; groups like A-Plus and a number of Birmingham industrialists who have contended for years that the way to make Alabama great is to raise taxes.
A group of Republicans who are supporting the Riley tax plan recently sent out a flier under the banner of "REAL" Republicans-"Republicans for Education Accountability and Leadership." I know these men and women and think well of them, as I do Gov. Riley. But the flier implies that Republicans who oppose the Riley plan are not "real" Republicans. I don't like that.
At a July 19 meeting, the Alabama Republican Party steering committee voted overwhelmingly to recommend that Alabama Republicans vote NO on Sept. 9. Although criticized by the governor's press office and the governor for our action, I believe the men and women attending that July 19 meeting are the "real" Republicans.
One of the leaders I admire, President Ronald Reagan, is often quoted and used as an example by Gov. Riley. A quote the governor hasn't used was this one from President Reagan's 1965 race for governor of California. "Government is like a big baby-an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other," Mr. Reagan said.
The problem with Gov. Riley's $1.2 billion tax plan – it is strong on appetite but very weak on responsibility or, if you prefer, strong on taxes and very weak on accountability.
I ask Alabamians-especially Republicans-to vote NO on Sept. 9. Gov. Riley and the Alabama Legislature need to take another crack at solving the state's problems without overtaxing Alabama's hard working citizens in the process.
J. Elbert Peters is a retired electrical engineer from Huntsville. He served as Alabama Republican Party Chairman from 1992-1995 and in the administrations of Governors Guy Hunt and Fob James.

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