Governor wants to sue cheating companies

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 24, 2002

BNI Newswire

In a year rife with news of corporate scandals, Gov. Don Siegelman said this week he wants to sue companies that he said cheat Alabama out of tax dollars for schools.

Last December, the Legislature chose not to support a Siegelman plan to close so-called corporate tax "loopholes" that he said takes money that should go to the education budget.

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Now, though, he said he thinks the time is right to go after that money.

"That was before Enron, before WorldCom," Siegelman said last week. "That was before all of the fraud became public. … Today the atmosphere is more conducive (to close the loopholes)."

But Siegelman’s campaign spokesman said Tuesday that the governor won’t be asking legislators to change the law in what would be a rare election-year special session.

"The governor is not considering calling a special session before the election," Rip Andrews told The Associated Press.

Instead, Siegelman would put together a team of auditors to look at financial records from out-of-state companies.

"Many of these companies keep two sets of books," Siegelman told The Associated Press. "One for their shareholders to show how much money the company is making and one for the state revenue department to show how they’re barely making money or losing money so they don’t have to pay their fair share to the state."

The governor has been talking about getting the "fair share" from companies for at least the past eight months. When he called a special session in December 2001, lawmakers declined to pass his plan, instead raising taxes on long-distance calls and cellular phone calls.

Siegelman’s opponent in the November general election, U.S. Rep. Bob Riley, R-Ala., has not yet released details of his education plan for Alabama.