Why I'm Voting Myself
By Al Harris
August 26, 2003
Roads so smooth they can't ruin a front-end alignment.
Police departments staffed so well that families can sleep in peace.
Schools so well funded that intersections remain free of fund-raising "roadblocks."
These are just a few of the reasons I will be voting myself a tax increase on September 9, although more than 80 percent of everybody else will actually be getting a tax cut under Gov. Riley's plan.
The "marriage tax penalty" -- state and federal -- will apply in my case. But I would gladly pay double or triple the amount of my estimated increase in order to live in a progressive state.
We would have to pay far more in some neighboring states to find the quality of life that Gov. Riley is proposing with his conservative plan, which will actually reduce the overall tax burden for the vast majority of Alabamians.
The small percentage of us who will pay extra state income tax will be getting a bargain. For me, it will amount to far less than the price of a couple of alignment jobs, far less than getting nickled and dimed to death with multiple sales tax hikes -- and will be much easier to handle than seeing needy senior citizens going without healthcare and other services.
On an even deeper level voting "Yes" means I won't have to be embarrassed that I live in a state where citizens don't care enough about others to fund government services at a level sufficient to take care of the less fortunate. Essential services have a real cost and should be shared fairly.
I see the small increase I'll incur as sort of a "dues payment" -- my share of the cost of achieving and maintaining a progressive state where libraries can buy new books and where local governments can repair bridges and replace century-old water pipes. And where schools and infrastructure are so good our communities can attract new industry and create new jobs.
Hearing Gov. Riley advocate a tax of any kind is like hearing the Mississippi is flowing backward again -- it makes you take notice. I trust Riley. I believe he and the legislature are going to do the right thing.
I'm within striking distance of retirement -- I'm planning where I will be in the near future. I love being a Southerner, love living in Jacksonville. But unless Alabama turns around my wife and I will soon be relocating to one of the several other states that provide a decent quality of life.
September 9 is an opportunity to take responsibility. To step up to the plate and do what's right. I will vote "Yes." Not for what I will gain personally, but for what I can do for others and to maintain a "bottom line" for what we call "quality of life."
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