Tax plan ok but could be better

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 19, 2003

Last week when I listed some of the people in our area who, in my opinion, are outstanding economic development recruiters, I omitted from this list, my friend, Ricky McLaney of Greenville.

That was a fau paux – French for big mistake!

Ricky is not only an outstanding economic development representative, he is an outstanding person.

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I attend church with Ricky and his very charming family, and the last thing I would want to do is omit him from this list.

I guess I could say that I am getting old and forgetful, but the truth of the matter is I do not feel old nor often am I forgetful.

So I guess I am without an excuse.

In any event, Ricky, you are definitely on my list of outstanding industrial recruiters.

Speaking of industrial development, it was a privilege to be part of the ceremony in Luverne last week when a newly renovated building was named in honor of former Mayor John Harrison.

A large crowd gathered to enjoy the open house and extend best wishes to Doni Ingram and her staff who were in charge of the dedication of the Harrison Center.

John is certainly worthy of this honor and he was his ever-gracious self in accepting this recognition.

The debate is heating up over the Governor’s tax package.

This past weekend at least four meetings were held around the state putting together organizations to tout the passage of the constitutional amendment.

This next week there will be a meeting in Birmingham of the Republican Executive Committee to discuss whether or not the Republican Party should formally endorse or oppose the Governor’s proposals.

The Executive Director of the party is quoted as saying he does not expect the Governor to get an endorsement from the group.

All over our Senate District, constituents ask me how I personally feel about the tax package.

I always try to give them a candid and fair answer, and I will share that answer with you in this column.

I am going to support the constitutional amendment, but if it fails, I will not feel all hope is lost to correct the financial problems which we have in our state.

I say that because if I were to have a second chance at voting on tax reform measures I now know where I could tweak these proposals to make them fairer and more responsive to the needs we have in our state.

In other words, we did the best we could in the Legislature considering we only had two weeks in which to accomplish our task, but the package we have passed could be improved.

There are a lot of good provisions in these tax bills, but there is some &uot;overkill&uot; in the total amount of money generated by the proposed tax increases.

We could pare back the property tax, eliminate the tax on services, and make some adjustment in the deductions which have been eliminated, and I believe we would have a very good reform package.

And speaking of reforms, do not forget that this is not just a tax issue.

It also includes several educational reforms.

The frustration with voting on this tax package in September is that we all feel the urgency of getting more troopers on the road, keeping felons in prison, paying for elderly services, and taking some bold steps to improve education in Alabama.

However, all around us taxes are increasing, such as the additional one cent sales tax in Montgomery, the tax increases which come from annual reappraisals of property, and the additional fees we are paying for court services.

We need to look at the big picture and create a fair and equitable balance in dealing with the tax issue.

That is my goal, and if necessary, we will keep attacking the problem until we get it right.

Until next time, remember &uot;I’ll go with you or I’ll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing to P O Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049.