Survey Shows Lawmakers Don't Agree on Taxes

A majority of the House is in an anti-tax mood. But, an Associated Press survey found a majority of the Senate is willing to look at taxes to erase part of an anticipated shortfall of $350 million in the general fund budget. Tax advocates see that as an important difference because the constitution requires bills increasing state taxes to pass the House before they can be considered by the Senate.

In its survey, the AP asked legislators about their views concerning raising taxes to make up at least part of the budget shortfall predicted for fiscal 2005. The survey was answered by 74 percent of the House members, with 29 percent supporting new taxes, 44 opposing them, and 27 percent undecided. In the Senate, 86 percent of the members answered the survey, with 47 percent supporting new taxes to erase part of the shortfall, 30 percent opposed, and 23 percent undecided.

For some, it's too early to be talking about raising taxes after the September vote in which Alabama voters rejected Governor Riley's tax and accountability plan by a two to one margin. Vestavia Hills Representative John Hawkins, a Republican, says even though the money is needed, it's just not the time to do it. Even some favoring new taxes say the legislature shouldn't do it alone. Mobile Senator Vivian Davis Figures, a Democrat, says any tax increase should be put to a statewide vote, even if the legislature has the authority to raise the tax without a public referendum.

The Alabama legislature opens its regular session Tuesday.