Riley to Unveil Largest Tax Hike in State History

Governor Bob Riley was scheduled to call the legislature into session Monday to consider more than $1 billion in new taxes on individuals and businesses. He'll unveil the plan to the public via a television address on WSFA 12 News at 6:00 .

Riley cites Ronald Reagan as his role model as he pushes the largest tax increase in state history. Reagan did the same thing 36 years ago during his first term as governor of California, and he got re-elected to a second term.

In last year's campaign for governor, Riley repeatedly told voters that he never supported a tax increase during his six years as a Republican congressman. Democratic incumbent Governor Don Siegelman, who lost, kept advocating $200 million in new business taxes because he said the state needed more revenue.

Once Riley became governor, he discovered the state was in "its worst financial crisis since the days of the Great Depression."  Cost-cutting by his Cabinet can't occur fast enough to eliminate a deficit now standing at $675 million.

Rileys says the situation is the same one Reagan faced in 1966 upon his election in California. Like Riley, Reagan defeated a Democratic incumbent and then discovered the state was spending a million dollars more per day than it was receiving in tax revenue. Cost cutting by his Cabinet couldn't erase the deficit.

Says Riley about Reagan: "He ran his campaign saying he would never raise taxes, yet he didn't have a choice."

And when Reagan proposed the largest tax increase in California history in 1967, he didn't make a traditional speech to the Legislature. Instead, he made a short televised speech from his Capitol office, speaking directly to taxpayers during the evening newscasts.

Riley will take the same approach Monday night with an eight-minute speech at the start of WSFA 12 News at 6:00 .

From Associated Press Reports