Attempts to derail tax relief must be defeated

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 27, 2005

When the Alabama Legislature begins its 2006 regular session next month, much of the debate will center on what to do with an expected budget surplus of several million dollars.

Republicans, who recognize that the money rightfully belongs to the taxpayers, have recently proposed returning any left over revenue to the people of Alabama once education, government services and other essential items have been properly funded.

At no other time in our modern history has tax relief been seriously discussed in Montgomery, but Republicans are demanding that it be put on the table this year.

Democrats in the Alabama Legislature, on the other hand, have taken a page out of their congressional partners&8217; playbook and are firmly opposed to providing any form of tax relief to the hardworking men, women and families of the state. Many of the lawmakers sound like Walter Mondale with a southern accent when trying to explain that the government knows better than the people do about how the money should be spent.

Even Alabama Democrat Party Vice Chair and union boss Paul Hubbert has weighed in against providing some form of tax relief because it is in direct opposition to the liberal philosophy of the political party he helps lead and takes money away from improving the already substantial employment benefits of the union members he serves.

It is becoming evident that Hubbert, the Democrats and their cronies are concerned about protecting every special interest in Montgomery except for the one that needs protecting most &8212; the taxpayers of Alabama. The last thing they want to do is return control of tax dollars back to the people from which they came.

The logic behind offering some form of relief to Alabama taxpayers is sound and the reasons for it are many.

While Alabama&8217;s economy is already in excellent condition, as demonstrated by recent reports that November&8217;s unemployment figures were the lowest in our state&8217;s history, it is no secret that tax cuts provide the fuel that keeps a healthy economy running. Respected presidents like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan proved that fact while they were in office and, most recently, President George W. Bush provided a tax rebate to every American citizen in order to successfully ignite what had been a sluggish national economy.

Tax relief would help continue the impressive record of economic and employment growth Alabama has enjoyed for the past few years.

In addition, tax relief gives Alabama families breathing room when it comes to the growing expenses and needs of everyday life. Despite the fact that growth and revenue in the Education Trust Fund budget is at record levels with more money being appropriated than at any time in history, Hubbert claims that some form of tax reduction would take needed dollars away from public education, which he simply defines as pay raises and benefits for his union members.

I believe, for instance, that providing parents across Alabama with more money to purchase school clothes, supplies, notebooks, lunches and a thousand other expensive out-of-pocket needs that public school students require serves an equally, if not more, valuable purpose.

And, again, do not forget that this tax relief will come only after all of the needed budget requests of both K – 12 and higher education have been met.

For those of us who believe that tax relief is the right thing to do when the projected surplus exceeds even your best expectations, the fight will not be easy.

In addition to Hubbert&8217;s grab for a major piece of the pie, the state employees&8217; union will be grabbing for its piece, as will every other interest group and state agency in the Capitol.

We must each give our Republican leaders and legislators in Montgomery our support as they fight to return surplus tax dollars to the people of the state, which is exactly where it belongs.

And we must work everyday to elect more Republicans to office so that tax relief becomes the norm in Alabama rather than a once in a lifetime opportunity