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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Riley tax-cut proposal good for the long term?

This is the time of year when politics take over and leave even the best informed people wondering about things.

Take the business and education climates in Alabama, for example. Gov. Bob Riley tells us that Alabama is doing so well that he can afford to give residents a massive tax cut.

But Paul Hubbert, who heads the Alabama Education Association and who is also a Democratic Party official, says the governor's plan would do great harm to schools. It would cost Morgan County and Decatur schools more than $6 million annually, he says. Statewide, he claims the tax-reduction plan will cost schools $350 million.

But the governor says that growing revenue will more than offset the cuts.

Then there is the perspective of Charles McCrary, the chief executive of Alabama Power Co. Unless the state's government and education leaders change some things, the state is a lost cause, he says.

Speaking to the Birmingham Downtown Rotary Club, Mr. McCrary used the state's largest city as an example of the Alabama he sees from his lofty perch at Alabama Power.

He sees inferior education standards and government red tape that isn't attractive to major corporations. He said Alabama Power has trouble hiring entry-level workers because 75 percent of applicants fail a simple aptitude test.

Looking beyond the national borders, he says Alabama's status is even gloomier. China and India both produce hundreds of thousands more engineers a year than the U.S.

So, do we buy into a tax cut that leaves education funding neutral at best because of rising revenue or do we take the extra tax dollars and use them to better compete nationally and globally as Mr. McCrary says is needed?

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