What#039;s next for Alabama#039;s new day?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 20, 2003

N ow that the much heralded tax vote has come and gone, where do we go from here.

I think it depends in part on how you interpret the defeat of Amendment One.

The Riley Administration is interpreting the vote as being the citizens of Alabama are overwhelmingly against any new taxes to support government services.

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A Riley spokesman told me this past week that he used the word "overwhelmingly" because of the lopsided no vote.

You will recall that the no's were 68% and the yea's were 32%.

The vote was indeed overwhelmingly against the amendment but does that mean that the people of Alabama are opposed to any new tax if it were earmarked for needed services.

I think this is a reasonable question to ask and I would like to explain why I feel it is.

First of all, I am not surprised at the defeat of the amendment.

The way the Riley Administration set it up, it was an all or nothing proposition.

In other words, you could not selectively pick those things you felt comfortable with.

You had to vote yes or no on the entire package.

In effect, this meant you had to take the bad with the good.

Most Alabamians with whom I spoke did not like this approach.

Secondly, the tax bills were extremely complicated.

Thirdly, there was a tax included which I voted against in the Legislature – the tax on services.

Finally, I feel that those who oppose the tax package were more skillful in portraying their point of view than those who advocated its package.

There has been a lot of sentiment expressed that on top of all the reasons for opposing the amendment there was an additional concern, that being a distrust of the Alabama Legislature.

When I hear this, I assume that distrust is equated with misspending or mismanagement of tax dollars.

There are some legislators who should plead "guilty" to such an allegation, but for the most part I serve with a lot of talented, unselfish people who want what is best for the state of Alabama.

So what do we do now?

We are in session this week to look at options, one of which is to pass a budget based on the monies available.

If we do this, then all services of state government will be dramatically curtailed.

It will be my goal to attempt to impact those agencies and services least which directly affect our public health and public safety.

This will be an arduous task, and I earnestly solicit your views on what our priorities should be.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

be reacjed at 334-242-7883, or by writing

to P.O. Box 225, Luverne, AL 36049.