Times change, so must Alabama

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2003

The gauntlet has been laid down and now Alabama needs a knight in shining armor to champion the cause.

What, pray tell, are we talking about?

We're talking about Gov. Bob Riley's plan for true reform in Alabama. Accountability and tax reform. Two things long lacking in this great state of ours.

Exactly how does the governor propose to do this?

With a special-called session of the Alabama Legislature, presenting them with the opportunity to place on a ballot measures that call for reduced government spending, increased taxes in some areas, lower taxes in other areas and yes, even the creation of college scholarships for academically qualified students.

Details of the governor's plan are still coming to light, but from what we've seen so far, Gov. Riley is right on the money - literally.

In the oft-unheard of world of Republicans proposing higher taxes, at least publicly, Riley took a stand and said the time has come for a true solution. No more patchwork, piecemeal, bandaging efforts. True tax reform is necessary, just to maintain current levels of funding for Alabama agencies.

He's right. True tax reform is necessary and long overdue. The robbing Peter to pay Paul scenario has been in force for far too long, and now, both Peter and Paul have come up with empty pockets.

While no one likes the thought of higher taxes, it must be realized that it is tax dollars that allow us to enjoy so many of the things we have now. Alabama's tax structure has remained essentially flat, while inflation and basic cost-of-living has continued to rise.

No longer is it possible to buy a Coca-Cola for a nickel and get a hamburger for a dime.

Just the same, no longer is it possible to buy a school book for $10 and keep a patient in a nursing home for just a couple hundred dollars a month.

It's more like $60 for one school book, and thousands of dollars annually for nursing home care.

We understand and sympathize with the argument that there's plenty of tax dollars floating around out there now. In most cases, that's true. It's been mismanagement and free-wheeling spending at the state level that's helped get us to the point we're at now.

We understand that there's fat left to be trimmed. Gov. Riley's been trimming some of the fat since day one in office

but you can only trim so much before you hit the bone, and then, you've lost any chance of salvaging the good portion.

The time has come

trim it all or try to save it.

We believe Gov. Riley is trying to save it, save Alabama.

We, as well as colleagues and others throughout the state had called for Gov. Riley to quit the talk and actually walk the walk. It appears he's lived up to his part, now the legislature must live up to theirs, and we, the people, must live up to ours.

We are the ones who will ultimately decide the fate of Gov. Riley's reform package, and we are the ones who hold the future of Alabama in our hands.