Higher taxes won’t help

With the 2009 legislative session in Alabama just a few months away, we are beginning to hear some political chatter about the need to increase taxes.

Because we are experiencing the largest drop in state revenue in over a decade, some special interests are already formulating plans to push the legislature for additional taxes to make up for it.

The word of the day for the Alabama Legislature in the short term should be restraint, which is defined as holding back, controlling, or checking.

I believe tax increases during a sluggish economy would be imprudent at best and devastating at worse.

Now is not the time to rush to judgment on increasing taxes on folks who are already strapped.

Piling on those who are struggling to make ends meet is like tackling a football player already out of bounds.

With proration a real possibility in 2009, we must resist the pressure by these special interests to raise taxes.

When the economic forecast calls for sunnier skies there is more money to spend on certain essential state programs.

However, when revenues sharply decline it is time that we treat state budgets as we would our family budgets and tighten the spending belt.

The real reason tax revenues are down is that sensible Alabamians have responded to the volatile stock market and high gas and grocery prices by spending less.

They realize it’s cheaper to eat at home, drive less and hold off on buying non-essential items. This is just what ordinary citizens do in tough financial times — tighten their belts until the economy shows signs of improvement.

It is also what state government must do until things get better. Instead of imposing new taxes on working men and women, we must find ways to cut duplication of services and wasteful spending.

When Amendment One failed early in the first Riley administration, the Governor and lawmakers went to work on trimming the cost of operating sate government. It worked then, and it can work now.

The federal government is allowed to spend into debt, but our state Constitution, like that of many others around the country, requires us to have a balanced budget. The economic downturn has and will continue to have a negative impact on our state budget.

As elected leaders, our response must be to put spending on hold rather than squeeze hard-working Alabamians with any additional taxes.

State government must do what families all across Alabama do – sit at the kitchen table and discuss what are necessities and what are luxuries.

When we go back to Montgomery in a few months, Alabama lawmakers should take the kitchen table approach to state spending by separating greed from need.