Riley Team plans Aug. 26 rally at TSU#039;s Sartain Hall

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2003

One group of people isn't waiting any longer to let their voice be heard.

The Riley Team met Thursday to discuss what they needed to do to inform Pike County of Gov. Bob Riley's tax plan.

"It is our hope and plan to assist the governor in anyway we can to get the amendment passed," county team leader Doni Ingram said.

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Already the group is heavily publicizing a rally that will take place August 26 at 10 a.m. Sartain Hall on the campus of Troy State University. The governor himself will be there to explain the tax package.

"Personally, I think that those who are opposed to the governor's plan either don't understand it or have been given misinformation."

Barbara Gibson, who is also a county team leader, said she fully supports the tax plan.

"The question people should be answering is, if not this than what?" she said.

Not everybody at the meeting agreed with everything included in Riley's tax package, but they all agreed it is a step in the right direction.

"We have to pass the tax package," said Jean Laliberte. "We haven't seen a governor in over 50 years who's been willing to step out with a tax package."

Laliberte said if Alabama doesn't respond now, it may be another 50 years before another governor comes along who will do the same.

Laliberte agreed that the plan wasn't perfect but said the legislature can work out the flaws after Alabama passes it on September 9.

Debbie Fortune, who is also a county team leader, said the state government is waiting to pass its budget until after the September 9 vote. If the package doesn't pass, the state's budget will be in serious trouble.

"What happens on September 10 if it doesn't pass?" she asked. "Do we have a Plan B for back-up? If not, there will be an 18 percent cut for all state agencies."

The Riley Team members said it is important for Pike Countians to know what the consequences could be should the tax package not pass.

"Our team is going to educate Pike County voters on what the tax reform is and what the alternatives are."

The budget cuts would affect the elderly, education, healthcare and the criminal justice system among other agencies.

"It may not be perfect, but if this plan isn't passed, I believe we'll have relegated Alabama to third-world country status within the United States."

Jimmy Copeland also agrees that the plan is imperfect, but he admires Gov. Riley for what he is doing.

"He put his political career on the line," he said. "And when he did that he moved from being a politician to a statesman."

The plan can't please every Alabamian, but voters should keep in mind they can't pick and choose what they want. It either passes as a whole or it fails.

"You don't need to vote with your head on this one," Laliberte said. "If you love Alabama, you need to vote with your heart."