Thursday, August 14, 2003


I believe this letter to the editor is worth reprinting:

Richard A. Vining
Letter to the Editor
of Mobile's Register

Letter to the Editor May 18, 2003
P. O. Box 2488 Re: Comments On The Proposed Budget
Mobile, AL 36652-2488

The Proposed Budget by the State and Education Dept. is an example of unparalleled greed. After the best year of tax collecting in Alabama's History it is brave to try to pull off what the Governor, Executive Dept. and the Education Dept. is attempting.

Here are some examples: Year 2002/2003 Year 2003/2000 Increase
Examiner of Public Accounts 12,337,741 6,000,000 30%
Ag &Cons Development Comm. 2,429,970 4,361,646 79%
Dept of Corrections 233,983,663 348,688,820 49%
Criminal Justice Info Center 2,551,475 3,294,488 77%
Alabama Developmental Office 4,400,252 5,767,321 31%
Environmental Management 5,780,494 16,235,159 280%
Dept of Forensic Sciences, Dept of 7,645,575 15,412,666 202%
Health, Dept of Public 56,261,629 79,409,627 34%
Human Resources, Dept. of 72,899,443 93,118,627 28%
Mental Health, Dept of 96,832,631 114,848,820 17%
Military Department 4,767,839 6,220,331 31%
Pardon and Parole, Board of 13,887,497 19,689,425 42%
Senior Service, Dept of 10,044,976 17,939,976 79%

Total For the State 1,264,918,386 1,635,260,029 29%

State Dept of Education
Archives and History 504,930 1,340,000 265%
Children's Affairs, Dept of 680,805 7,441,905 1093%
K-12 Foundation Program 2,541,287,878 2,625,131,368 15%
Additional Teacher Units 0 16,000,000 new budget item
Transportation 194,389,291 226,454,381 16%
Total Increase K-12 2,790,010,911 2,921.790.853 16.6%

This is an increase of $ 131,787,762 in K-12 Cost

State Board two year College system Added New Budget Items
Skilled Workforce Initiative 20,000,000
Common Administrative System 200,000
Deferred Maintenance 4,870,000 (+58,070,000 )
Priority Schools 3,000,000
Social Promotion Initiative 8,000,000
Special Education 22,000,000

Adult Basic Education 5,778,447 8,780,000 52%
Math, Science & Tech. Initiative 237,600 2,237,600 941%
Education Television Commission 8,975,500 10,577,334 12%
Examiners of Public Accounts 2,960,725 4,625,020 56%
Student Assistance Program 1,326,933 5,986,460 51%
Medical Scholarships 395,694 2,800,000 708%
Supercomputer Authority 2,567,272 6,500,000 253%
Veteran Affairs (Education Benefits) 6,378,400 10,000,000 56%
Total U of Ala. System 379,395,997 436,240,102 15%
Total Ala A & M 31,848,863 39,650,917 20%
Total Auburn University 206,337,817 224,104,213 9%
Total Colleges and Schools 851,372,052 973,616,528 14%
Total Education Trust Fund 4,153,145,594 4,519,707,757 9%
Total Increase in Education Cost $ 366,562,163 9%
Total cost of the Increase In the State Budget $ 370,341,643 29%

All foregoing examples are from the proposed state budgets. You may visit this site via the Internet at:

With such a large increase in nearly every department's budget it is easy to see why there is a deficit in the state budget !!
Very few asked for the same or little more this year!
They knew they had a Governor who will try and increase taxes so they made very large budget requests for their departments.
It is true that some state agencies have been shorted in recent years. Everyone who pays attention knows that the Dept of Correction, the Dept of Public Safety, Judicial and the Medicaid Program need additional funding.

I will not accept any new taxes without a sunset provision of 5 years, and the promise and plan to reduce the size of state government 5% per year for the next 5 to 10 years. This should include reduction in all state and all the education depts. with the exception of Judicial, Medicaid, Corrections and the Department of Public Safety which has not been properly funded in the last 4 years.

The state of Alabama is 13th in the nation in the number of state employees. (Source Ala Family Institute by Gary Palmer) Therefore cutting state employees will not affect services. Only 50% of state education money goes to education today compared to 90% in 1960. In the last 6 years there have been 6150 new teachers hired while students decreased by 9,000.
State funding has increasing 5 billion dollars from 1997 to 2003. .
This is a 40.38% increase in spending in 6 years!
According to the US Census data the average Alabamian pays 24.5% of their personal income to state and local government. This is higher than the Southeastern and National average. It is immoral and unethical to ask for more taxes.
The Tax and Spend Hogs in Montgomery will never get enough
Governor Bob Riley is giving the Democrats what they want, and will be a one-term governor. He has forgotten he only won by 3000 votes!!

Sincerely, Richard A. Vining, Coden, P. O. Box 346, AL 36523

Well it did not take me long to make a mistake trying to decipher the language of the proposed amendment. Actually the language cited below appears to change an earlier amendment (adopted in 1956) which liberalized the permitted uses of the income from Section 16 lands back to its original language. Seems this is mostly an issue of political correctness.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


A change to the Alabama Constitution is part of Billion Dollar Bob's tax increase proposal that, to my knowledge, has not received any attention at all. In various places in the current constitution the State is required to spend money or create a fund which, for example, "shall be applied to the support and furtherance of education" and "it shall be the duty of the legislature to increase the education fund from time to time as the necessity therefore and the condition of the treasury and the resources of the state may justify" [this is concerning the state property tax].

In both cases, the voters are asked on September 9 to approve changes to this language from the word "education" to the phrase "public school." Thus the "education fund" becomes the "public school fund." "Furtherance of education" becomes "maintenance of the public schools." [Act No. 2003-78, p. 5]

Someone on the pro-tax team was smart enough to sneak in a CONSTITUTIONAL BAN ON VOUCHERS as part of the tax-increase package -- and then not tell anyone about it.

Please spread the word about this.

Several friends and readers have asked me to post my analysis of the Alabama constitutional amendment which is to be voted on September 9. There are so many issues and so much to cover, from so many different levels and types of analysis, that one scarcely knows where to start. However, I have been collecting material on the subject since the matter first arose, and I believe I have a perspective which may add to the general debate. Between now and September 9, I will be putting downs some thoughts which I hope to be of value.

Perhaps, the shear political crudeness and cynical approach of Billion Dollar Bob in structuring his proposal is the best place to begin. The proposal which the voter will see on the ballot reads as follows:

"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, establishing the Alabama Excellence Initiative Fund which may be used to fund programs including, but not limited to, the furtherance of excellence in public education, college scholarships, health care benefits for senior citizens and job training programs to attract new high paying jobs and otherwise provide for distributing state tax revenues; to adjust income and property taxes; to establish the General Fund Rainy Day Account; to provide for the replenishment of the General Fund Rainy Day Account and the Education Trust Fund Rainy Day Account."

There is not even a mention what parts or sections of the constitution are to be amended or what the document says today and what it will say if the measure is adopted. No matter that most of the issues being discussed in the media about the governor’s plan are not part of the constitutional amendment being voted on. For example, the proposed amendment would raise the maximum income tax rate from 5% to 6% and would change the dedication of new proceeds from the educational trust fund to the general fund (by a complex formula which was approved by the teachers’ union). But it gives no tax relief for the poor. This is in companion legislation which is subject to change at the whim of the legislature (and is vastly over-stated in any event).

Much of the recent media discussion (and the ads from the proponents) concerns a supposed “tax reform” and even a “middle-class tax cut,” but these concern proposed changes in the tax code which the legislature was and is perfectly free to do on its own without changing the constitution.

In any event the proponents first over-estimate the percentage of incomes the “poor” are currently paying in state taxes and focus on how awful this is; then they point to the fact that under the proposal these taxes will be lifted by raising the threshold of exemptions. But nowhere do they quantify the plain fact that these tax-cuts are trivial compared to the increases which are to be borne by everybody else.