Gov. Riley explains tax package

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 21, 2003

More than 500 gathered Saturday afternoon in Montgomery's Embassy Suites hotel to hear Gov. Bob Riley explain his $1.2 billion tax package.

"There was great, grassroots support from both Republicans and Democrats," said Debby Fortune, who heads Troy State University's Southeast Alabama Learning Network.

Fortune said she'd be talking the governor's package up when it comes to a vote Sept. 9 because it's time "for a new Alabama."

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

"We want the public to know that this is going to be a very important day for Alabama's future," she said.

Hank Jones, superintendent of Troy City Schools, echoed Fortune's comments.

"I think the governor's plan, though there may be some things in it that I don't especially like, is the only plan that has been presented in my lifetime that gives us hope for the future," he said.

Like many, Jones said the plan, if passed, would result in higher taxes on his land.

"Overall I think the package is fair, it is equitable and it will allow us to do better than we have done in the past," he said. "He didn't just fill the void, he's looking to offer new opportunities to students and residents of the state of Alabama."

That opportunity is something Fortune believes needs to be stressed in the next two months.

"The governor has done his part; the Legislature has done their part; now it's up to us - it's in our hands," she said.

"One of things (in the package) is education reform. If the package passes, we'll be investing in education across the state – it will fully fund the Alabama Reading Initiative. It will expand the math and science initiative, and will increase the distance learning program," she said.

"Once the tax package is passed, these are the things that the money is going to be used for," Fortune said.

Linda Steed is in her second year as president of the Alabama Association of School Boards, and is a member of the Pike County School Board.

She did not attend the meeting Saturday due to a prior commitments, but said she was behind the governor's package.

"Our children who are in school now are our leaders tomorrow, if the money isn't provided for them now, then what's our future going to look like," she asked.

Steed also said it would be up to the plan's supporters to sell the package along side Riley.

"Our job is letting people know that if you invest in this, that we're going to make these changes and provide better jobs for people by having highly educated people…I hope this passes and I'm willing to sacrifice a little for the state's future."