Former Riley Cabinet Member Comes Out Against His Plan

Former Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bishop's one-year alliance with Governor Riley is over. Bishop held his first news conference Tuesday as co-chairman of the Tax Accountability Coalition, the group opposing Riley's tax and accountability plan.

Bishop and coalition founder Roger McConnell called the news conference to criticize a meeting planned Friday in Hanceville for about three thousand community college employees to hear the governor. They said the meeting ought to be moved to a night or weekend so the employees wouldn't be attending on state time to hear a sales pitch for the Governor's tax plan. Two-year college Chancellor Roy Johnson says he won't change it. He says it's a chance for employees to hear him, the governor and state board of education members discuss the state's budget situation. A spokesman for the governor agrees that it's about much more than the Governor's package.

Johnson says all members of the State Board of Education are welcome to speak at the meeting, including those opposed to the Governor's plan. Bishop finished second in the Democratic primary for governor last year. Then he endorsed Riley for governor and ended up serving as his labor commissioner until resigning earlier this month. Bishop said that when he resigned, he didn't intend to get involved in the September ninth referendum on Riley's tax plan, but his friends kept calling him about it. Bishop accused the Governor of being deceptive when he says it will help working people. Bishop says working people will pay more because of the higher sales taxes on cars and the new tax on repairs.

A spokesman for the Governor says Bishop needs to look at the impact of the whole package, including raising the income tax deduction for children from 300 dollars to 22-hundred dollars.