What Alabama's low-tax mania can teach the rest of the country
Times Commentary by Adam Cohen
October 20, 2003
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The budget ax is swinging in Alabama, and the carnage is piling up. A hundred and
fifty fewer low-income AIDS patients will receive life-saving medicines from the state. Fifteen thousand low-income Alabamians
may lose their hypertension drugs. ...
The cuts are reaching down to core government functions.
court system is laying off 500 of 1,600 workers, from
clerk's office employees to probation officers. The health
is losing investigators who track tuberculosis,
and sharply reducing restaurant inspections.
Alabama's huge budget
gap is a result of the voters' rejection, nearly six weeks ago, of Gov. Bob Riley's tax reform plan, which would have generated
an additional $1.2 billion, much of it from undertaxed timberland. After the
vote, Governor Riley was forced to cut most
state agencies by 18 percent, and other recipients of state funds by 75 percent.... Next year agencies are bracing for a 56
percent hit. If the state cannot find more revenue - and Governor Riley is searching - it may be nearly impossible for basic
services, including courts, prisons and police, to operate. ...
We should all pay attention, because
if the "starve the beast" crowd continues to prevail in Washington, as goes Alabama so may go the nation.
© 2003 The New York Times Company
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