Friday, January 18, 2008

Bob Riley Plays Naked Politics

Those of us who live in Alabama should never be terribly surprised at any political stunt Republican Governor Bob Riley might pull.

But Riley pulls one today that took even your humble blogger aback.

Riley is proposing a series of tax cuts that supposedly would help lower-income and middle-income families and stimulate a sagging economy. "Tax relief for working families" is what Riley calls it.

But here's a little problem with Riley's plan. We already know that a looming recession is expected to cause a drop of at least $500 million in Alabama's Education Trust Fund for the 2008-09 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

And where would Riley's tax cuts reduce revenue? In the Education Trust Fund. Riley's own spokeswoman admits that. She also lets the ball drop that the tax proposal includes reductions in corporate income taxes. Wow, big surprise there.

Who is Riley thinking about more here, his corporate buddies or "working families?" If you really have to think about the answer to that one, well, I'm afraid I can't help you.

If Riley really was interested in "working families," perhaps he would try to get the Alabama Supreme Court's unlawful ExxonMobil decision overturned. That of course is the ruling that will cost the state about $3.6 billion (that's billion with a "b"). Maybe that money would help "working families." But Riley has said he won't even try to go after it.

Riley also has been remarkably quiet about Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr.'s proposal to revise the state's tax law governing payments by oil giants such as Exxon. Folsom, of course, is a Democrat, and his plan actually might do something for "working families." It would require corporations to pay a fair price for making themselves rich off Alabama's natural resources. Wonder why Goober Riley is so quiet about that idea.

So here is Riley's plan: We've got an Education Trust Fund that we already know is facing a major shortage next fiscal year, and the Guv is proposing that we take even more money from that fund--a fund by the way that is used to educate the children of, you guessed it, "hard working families."

And here's something else to consider about Goober Riley: Remember when Don Siegelman was governor and the crash caused economic hard times in the second half of his term. In the 2002 governor's race, Riley crowed about how he would create jobs and handle the economy much better than Siegelman did. Well, now we have another recession on its way--this one caused by the policies of a GOP administration--and Riley is proposing that we take money from the fund that is supposed to educate our children. You know, the children Republicans refer to when they go all "pro life" and "pro family" on us.

By comparison, what was Don Siegelman's approach? He tried to start an education lottery that would have actually improved education in Alabama. And what did Siegelman get for his troubles? A nice federal prison sentence on bogus charges trumped up by the corrupt Bush Justice Department.

How long will Alabamians, mostly white ones, continue to mindlessly pull the lever for corrupt Republicans like Riley? How many more years of that kind of mindless voting can we afford?


Anonymous said...

Historically, Tax cuts have actually increased tax revenues. When people keep more of their own money they tend to use in in ways that grows the economy and creates more (not less) tax revenue.

Besides, Riley warned the state about just this scenario when he vetoed the 6% pay increase for teachers in 2005. It was sinly too large to sustain over time. I think you will see that the difference between his proposed 4% increase and Hubbert's 6% increase will account for much of the shortfall in next year's EFT.

Anonymous said...

Raising the tax threshold for the poor is a good thing. Alabama used to start taxing a family of four at $4600. Thanks to a bipartisan effort by Riley and Rep. John Knight, that got moved up to $12,600. Now Riley's just trying to raise it more. How is that bad?

Anonymous said...

Paul Hubbert and the Democrats define a family of four making more than $20,000 as rich (Riley wants to raise the threshol, but Hubbert and then Dems are stopping him). Perhaps Mr. DROP needs a reality check.

Anonymous said...

Republicans always want to cut taxes, but they like to spend like drunken sailors. They don't care that we have something like a 13 trillion dollar deficit and that we are borrowing money from Peter to pay Paul to pay for the Iraq occupation and the Afganistan operation.

Alabama should be ashamed of itself for taxing people that earn $12,600 per year. Alabama should also be ashamed for their low teacher saleries, while they pay college football coaches millions of dollars.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say that this blog is a breath of fresh air. I just moved here from Vermont with some trepidation about finding a home for my progressive views...good to see that you are keeping the ideologues' feet to the fire. Thank you so much for what you do.