Gov. Bob Riley Speech to Alabama

Gov. Bob Riley will not have history on his side when he calls the Legislature into special session at noon today to consider the largest tax increase in state history.

Three out of Alabama's last four governors, Guy Hunt, Jim Folsom and Don Siegelman, offered big tax packages that didn't survive.

Riley knows a $1.2 billion tax package won't be easy, but he says the combination of a $600 million budget shortfall and the public's dissatisfaction with the status quo in Montgomery have come together to create a climate for change.

Paul Hubbert, executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association, said the last governor to successfully push a long-term financing plan for education was Albert Brewer, who got the Legislature to approve a tax package in 1969.

On the local level, higher taxes are an equally hard sell. The Alabama Association of School Boards reports that since November 1988, voters have rejected 54 of the 88 property tax referendums for local schools.

That's a 61-percent failure rate.

Riley's plan will be subject to both approval of the Legislature and approval of Alabama voters in a September referendum.

Some lobbying organizations that endorsed Riley last year are also taking a wait-and-see attitude.