Mitchell shocked at tax success

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 9, 2003

State Sen. Wendell Mitchell can't believe Gov. Bob Riley won the fight for a

$1.3 billion tax package.

"I am absolutely surprised that a Republican governor who never supported a tax bill in his four terms in Congress could ever be successful in promoting and passing the largest tax increase in (Alabama) history," Mitchell said Monday.

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Saturday was the final day of a three-week

special session to address a more than $600 million deficit looming for the state's next fiscal year.

In addition to the tax increase package, a set of accountability bills was also passed, aimed at creating greater efficiencies in government.

The measure heads to a referendum vote in September.

Mitchell supported the governor's package because he saw it as a way to "provide what the Alabama citizens need," and because Riley's proposals addressed the long-term needs of the state.

"In the several terms in Legislature, I've never seen an administration - either Republican or Democrat - propose anything but a 'Band-aid' approach to our broad-based problems," he said. "This governor came forward with a proposal that should remedy our ills for a long time to come."

State Rep. Alan Boothe said he had a few issues with the package, but believed Alabama voters should decide for themselves.

"They need to decide whether to support it - they need to make that decision themselves," Boothe said. "They don't need to be hoodwinked (by special interest group advertising), they need to look at the ad valorem part and see how much their taxes are going up."

"They need to see the ramifications it will have on them personally and then vote their conscious," he said.

A large portion of the tax increase will come from property taxes and income taxes, but the legislators say the measures will place a higher burden on Alabama's wealthiest.

"First of all, if the a person makes $20,000 or less they get a tax break," Mitchell said, adding the taxes on a $75,000 home would also be neutral.

Wealthier individuals would pay according to their ownership and income level.

"It should be emphasized that citizens will have the final say on this. They can vote for it or against it.

"I would recommend a vote for the package because it's fair across the board," Mitchell said.