Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 12, 2003

The Feds giveth and the state taketh away - that's the tax story for Alabamians this year, as the governments square-dance their way through debit and credit. While the Senate spent Monday trying to push to push a $350 billion tax-cut, Gov. Bob Riley

proposes the possibility of a tax hike to the tune of $1 to 1.2 billion. All of these mythical tax dollars seem to be free-flowing from one source to another while the American citizen wonders when they will, or if they will, reach his grasp.

It seems we are robbing Peter to pay Paul. Handing out tax cuts - designed to stimulate the economy - at a time when the country is facing the highest deficit allowed by law, is a worrisome thing - especially when states are scrambling and having to raise their own taxes to compensate for losses from the federal level.

Face it, we're going to have to pay those taxes. The only difference lies in which agency receives them.

This federal cut may prove beneficial to the state in the long run, and not just because the Senate bill - if it passes - has a $20 billion aid package for the state and local governments, but because of the shift in tax destination. If we have to pay more taxes to the Alabama state government, and less to the federal government, then our tax dollars are staying in our state and are being applied directly to our needs.

This tax liability do-si-doe is a sample of what is truly wrong with the taxation and appropriations system in our government - on all levels. It is not so much the amount coming in or the amount going out - but to where the amount is going. We need to reexamine our appropriations and spending on a federal level, much as Riley has attempted to do on a state level.

Legislators can dance around the issues all they want, but when its a down-home hoedown, we can keep a closer eye on the steps they take.