Fixed on approaching iceberg

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 12, 2003

People are asking,&uot;What has happened to Hank Erwin?&uot; They say he is not the man they elected.

They say he has rejected his conservative Republican core beliefs to embrace this massive tax hike.

My answer is that I am fixed on the approaching iceberg.

For the past year, I have stared at an undeniable crisis in our state budgets. We simply don’t have the money to pay the bills.

We have to come up with $675 million by Oct. 1 or else.

This is not crying wolf. This is the wolf. He’s at the door.

I do not mind the criticism I am receiving over my tax hike position. I have sided with the governor on this one.

He is a Republican. He is our leader.

This is his solution. I am going to help him.

But I am appalled at the denial I see in my conservative friends that any crisis exists at all.

They say that we don’t have a crisis.

This is just another Montgomery scam to get our money.

In days past, I would agree. But not this time.

I have talked to department heads, financial heads, money advisers and anyone else in a position to know in Montgomery, and the consensus is the same &045; we are in a mess, big time.

This time the crisis is real.

We have only two options before us and only six weeks to act. It’s either raise taxes or cut deeper than we have ever before.

If we have to cut, the options do include closing prisons, emptying nursing homes, ending vaccination programs for children and many other agonizing decisions.

Considering the alternatives, I believe the right thing to do is to raise taxes, fix the problem and work toward a tax cut.

Otherwise, we are going to hit an iceberg Oct. 1. It could sink the ship.

My advice to anyone who gets a paycheck from the state is have your resum ready. You may have a job Sept. 1, but you may be fired by Oct. 1.

Sept. 9 is our only chance to avoid a disaster.

The iceberg is dead ahead. We are on a collision course.

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