Riley visits county as part of his #8216;Tax Cut Express#039; tour

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Gov. Bob Riley made a visit to Luverne Friday afternoon, stopping at the Crenshaw County Courthouse to speak to a large crowd.

Riley had begun his statewide &#8220Tax Cut Express” bus tour last Thursday in North Alabama with the second day of the tour beginning in Troy and ending in Montgomery.

Rene Lester, county team leader for the &#8220Bob Riley for Governor” campaign, addressed the crowd and welcomed the governor to the county.

&#8220We are very proud and honored to have Gov. Riley here with us in Crenshaw County,” Lester said. &#8220He has had a scandal-free administration and has given the people a say in government.”

Lester said that Riley had shown outstanding leadership during emergency situations such as Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Katrina.

&#8220Gov. Riley is a man of strong religious convictions, and we are honored to have him with us,” Lester said.

Standing on the courthouse steps, Riley told the crowd that education in Alabama was something to be proud of, and he cited the example of the Reading Initiative Program that had been successfully implemented in all first, second and third grades across the state.

He said that when he took office, Alabama was facing the biggest deficit it had seen since the Depression.

&#8220Now, we have the biggest surplus we've ever had in this state,” he said.

In the last two years, Riley said, the state had gone from a $4.2 billion education budget to a $6.2 billion education budget this year.

Riley also said that tax fairness needed to be brought back to the state and to its citizens.

&#8220When we have an opportunity to give the people's money back to them, back to where it came from, we should make that happen because it's not our money, it is their money,” Riley said. &#8220If we don't give tax relief now, when we have such a large surplus, when will we ever do it?”

Riley said that Alabama had many single parents who were &#8220working two jobs to make ends meet.”

&#8220Charging these people tax is just wrong,” he said. &#8220We are the only state in the U.S. at a $4,600 threshold.”

Because Alabama is the only state in the nation that begins to tax income on those who make less than $10,000 a year, the governor's plan raises the threshold at which people pay taxes from $4,600 to $12,500 a year. As a result of that adjustment, approximately 131,000 Alabamians will no longer be required to pay taxes on the income they earn.

In addition, it allows families to deduct more from their taxes by raising the dependent exemption from $300 to $1,000, the first such adjustment since 1935. Personal exemptions will also be adjusted from $1,500 to $1,700.

&#8220Plus, we need to help America's greatest generation, which are the senior citizens of today,” he said. &#8220They have built the greatest country the world has ever seen.”

Riley said that many people in their seventies and eighties are having to work part-time jobs in order to financially support themselves.

&#8220They need our help,” he said.

Riley urged citizens to contact their legislators to let them know that working families needed a tax cut.

&#8220The Legislature is passing cost of living adjustments for education employees and state employees. Why do average citizens deserve any less? A tax cut will help them just like pay raises help state employees and teachers,” Riley said.

When asked about Kia Motors' announcement to build its $1.2 billion assembly plant in West Point, Ga., Riley said that he did &#8220everything he could to see that it was placed as close to Alabama as possible.”

&#8220I think that there will be the tremendous possibility of growth for all of our suppliers here in the state,” he said.