If package fails, expect taxes anyway

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2003

The latest poll shows the governor’s tax package is in deep trouble.

The latest University of South Alabama/Mobile Register poll released this past weekend reveals a solid 20 point rejection of the governor’s tax plan.

The poll of 820 voters shows that if the election were held today over 50 percent

would say no. Only 30 percent would vote yes. The rest are undecided.

So the governor has his work cut out for him. He has a little over a month to turn things around.

The amazing problem before Gov. Riley

is countering the overwhelming rejection of the package among the poor to modest income folks of Alabama.

This is the very crowd that could benefit the most from the whole tax deal.

They would get a higher threshhold before taxes begin, tax cuts on top of that, college scholarships for their kids and higher homestead exemptions.

Yet this group is staunchly against the very thing that could help them. They believe that any tax hike is bad no matter what anyone promises.

My advice to the governor is to find a common ground and explain it, ditch the suits, hire Rick & Bubba and hit the back roads on a Harley. If that doesn’t work, then it’s over.

But what the voters need to understand is this, even if the tax package is voted down on Sept. 9, taxes will probably still go up anyway.

The Legislature will be called back into special session, and some form of business taxes or sales taxes will probably be passed to avoid a devastating series of budget cuts that could hammer the state.

I will vote against any tax increase at that time.

I believe it would be a slap in the face of the voters to vote for any new taxes when they have just sent us a strong message of no taxes period.

I will argue to proceed with budget cuts as mandated by the people.

But the ironic tragedy of the whole affair is that if this tax package goes down in flames, the poor folks who would have come out smelling like a rose, will come out mighty embarrassed.

They will pay even more taxes than ever before and never know what just hit them.

Sen. Hank Erwin represents Shelby County in the State Legislature. He resides in Alabaster