• 61°

Riley’s tax plan deserves close look

A recent poll of Alabamians shows that just over half of us are on board with Gov. Bob Riley’s tax plan.

Considering the often strong opposition in this state to new taxes, Riley and his staff have to feel good at this point that 52 percent of Alabamians are supportive. Apparently, many of us believe this state is in the condition that our leaders are saying it is in. It appears many of us are willing to pay to get out of this condition.

It is also relevant to note that a large percentage of Alabamians feel there is still much work to be done in the area of cutting government spending. Riley made strong efforts earlier this spring to cut costs.

Fleets of government vehicles were scrutinized, staffs were cut and salaries reduced. But the cuts have not balanced a state budget is that is out of kilter.

Riley felt that he had to show the people of Alabama he was serious about cutting government waste. He made a good effort, but it appears that many of us are saying it isn’t enough.

That’s a good philosophy. Government is notorious for wasting taxpayer money and government rarely shrinks. But this time, it doesn’t appear that the state can slash its way to success. The numbers are too big. By most estimates, the state needs an additional $600 million to balance its budget.

In the year 2000, Alabamians had the lightest tax burden when compared to those living in any other state in the nation. The reality is we can afford to pay more in taxes and still be a state that is recognized as a &uot;low-tax&uot; state.

It is encouraging to see that many of us have come to this conclusion. Our leaders appear to be doing a good job of informing the public on what the needs are.

As we move forward, we must continue to question government spending and push for good fiscal management. At the same time, we need to realize that we can afford to pay more and need to give serious consideration to the new tax plan.