Quin Hillyer today has offered a lengthy defense of Alabama Gov. Bob Riley’s 2003 tax plan (and Bradley Byrnes’ vote in favor of that plan), which I trust everyone will read, whether or not they’re interested in the Alabama gubernatorial election.
My basic reaction is this: If the arguments for the “Billion Dollar Bob” tax were rejected 2-to-1 by Alabama voters in 2003, why does Quin (or Bradley Byrne) think those arguments would be persuasive in 2010? Were I an advisor to the Byrne campaign, my advice on how to handle this issue would be simply, “Change the subject. Don’t refight a lost battle.”
As to the details of Quin’s argument, he writes, “Tim James’ father had cut the state budget to the bone.” Is that a bad thing? Or do Alabama voters have fond memories of Fob James’s tight-fisted fiscal conservatism?
Quin also writes that “huge swaths of land were effectively off the books because of what amounted to a huge exemption on taxes for lands used for timber — even if the timberland wasn’t actually being used in commerce, but just allowed to sit there as a nice big, untaxed private preserve.”
Again, how is that a bad thing? It tickles the heart of my inner libertarian to think of “huge swaths” of private property being “off the books” of the tax man. It also tickles my heart to think that two-thirds of Alabamians share that sentiment.