"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wMonday, September 08, 2003

JESUS CHRIST TAX COLLECTOR?: My latest column is up.

According to Alabama governor Bob Riley, it's the best thing since Mother Teresa beer. What started as a plan to close a budget gap foisted on him by a previous profligate administration turned into a crusade to bring fairness to the state tax code and public services. Fairness in this case means at least $1.2 billion in new taxes, higher salaries for inner city school teachers, and more generous college scholarships for the state's youth.

What's more, Riley stops just short of telling voters that it's their Christian duty to vote for the referendum on September 9. He says that Jesus would vote for "the least of these" and places his plan firmly in this category. He points out that the state income tax kicks in at an absurd income level -- less than $5,000 -- and that statewide educational performance is arguably the worst in the nation.

But rather than calling for income sheltering (where government agrees not to go after the first x number of dollars of a family's income) and gradual education reform, his plan would lower the income taxes of the poor, raise property and luxury taxes, hike income taxes on the better off, and trade more education funding for flexibility in the hiring and firing of new teachers (the state teachers' union has acquiesced in this but expect them to move to gut the reform in the event that anything is passed). Some doubters have dubbed this plan the Jesus tax. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 7:06 AM