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THURSDAY, MARCH 3, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Zero minus zero is still a big nothing goose egg

The eggheads at Washington's Cato Institute think tank missed the point badly in giving Gov. Bob Riley a D on its report card of the nation's 50 state chief executives.

Cato's guys, Stephen Moore and Stephen Slivinski, started with the premise that all tax increases are bad and all cuts in government spending are good.

But the researchers failed to take into consideration where Alabama ranks nationally in classroom expenditures, that the state struggles to fund enough state troopers to work the state, or that there is a perpetual fight between competing interests to adequately fund public education and general fund obligations.

The researchers also failed to note that property taxes in Alabama are the lowest in the nation.

It's easier to make an impressive splash when state budgets are bloated. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, gets an A for slashing programs and taxes. But he's proposed yearly savings that are more than Alabama's budgets.

Gov. Riley should have launched his accountability in government before trying to hike taxes in 2003. Yet, the governor is systematically hacking away at waste while trying to find the money to fund state government.

The Cato report may have legitimacy in certain states and it certainly fits into a recognizable political philosophy, but it has little practical application in Alabama.

In some states, slashing taxes and spending are good things. In Alabama, however, we don't have enough money to go around. The D that the governor received should stand for Determined to change the cycle of financial crises.

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