My Quiet Life My Quiet Life

change of heart

An [amazing story in yesterday’s Washington Post][1]. Alabama’s Republican Governor, Bob Riley, seems to have had quite the change of heart.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (R) -- who for three terms in Congress boasted that he never voted for a tax increase and was elected governor on a promise not to raise taxes -- is proposing to raise state taxes by a record $1.2 billion, eight times the largest previous increase and almost twice what is needed to close a $675 million budget deficit.

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The plan would raise the tax threshold from $4,600 to $20,000 for a family of four, and raise the exemption per child from $300 to $2,200, which Riley says would cut or leave income taxes unchanged for two-thirds of the state's taxpayers. The top third of earners would pay more, as would corporations and large land and timber holders. Alabama's lowest-in-the-nation property taxes would rise on average to $490 a year on a $100,000 home (a $136 increase) and to $1,540 on a $250,000 home (a $536 increase), according to the governor's figures.</span>

The support for his plan thus far is lukewarm. The usual suspects in Washington are mobilizing opposition to the plan, and unfortunately, even those that would benefit the most from the plan are apathetic or against it:

Somewhat paradoxically, polls show the strongest opposition is among black voters, who make up about a fourth of the electorate, and people with incomes under $30,000 -- the very Alabamians who would receive the largest tax cuts. Riley and his emissaries are campaigning hard among black voters, who opposed him overwhelmingly in November. He is encountering distrust embedded in Alabama history.

"Black people in particular and poor people in general have always been very suspicious when somebody in Montgomery says, 'I'm going to help you,' because usually in the end we get ripped off," said state Sen. Hank Sanders, an influential black politician. Sanders has taped ads supporting Riley's plan, but many other black leaders, including pastors, have been conspicuously silent.

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Amusingly, while the the Christian Coalition of America supports Riley's plan, Alabama chapter is against it, despite Riley's moralizing:

The born-again Baptist governor is telling voters in this Bible Belt state that their tax system, which imposes an effective rate of 3 percent on the wealthiest Alabamians and 12 percent on the poorest, is "immoral" and needs repair. "When I read the New Testament, there are three things we're asked to do: That's love God, love each other and take care of the least among us," Riley said in his office in the antebellum state Capitol.

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I guess maybe Riley is too Christian for their tastes.

[1]: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A4130-2003Aug16.html