Alabamans will vote today on a referendum to hike their own taxes by $1.2 billion. The referendum is the baby of Gov. Bob Riley (R.), who was narrowly elected last year after refusing to take a pledge not to hike taxes.
Riley, who was a conservative during his time in Congress (lifetime ACU rating: 97%) has shocked most of his supporters with this inexplicable attempt to hike taxes. Beginning shortly after his election, he began invoking God as the justification for his tax hike: that Alabamans have a moral duty to pay high taxes to the state to help the poor.
Conventional wisdom has it that most Alabamans wont remember the part of the Bible which mentions forced state redistribution when they head to the polls. Observers expect that the referendum will lose big — perhaps 60-40 — and that Riley will be a one-term governor, perhaps facing a strong primary challenge.
Riley did not share with his supporters his plan to hike taxes during his campaign, and many of his former allies who helped him win the contested 2002 election are now fighting him tooth and nail.
Riley joins the Ranks of Republican Governors Kenny Guinn (Nev.), Sonny Perdue (Ga.), Don Sundquist (Tenn.), and Mike Huckabee (Ark.), all of whom refused to take the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) pledge not to hike taxes. They also all subsequently tried to raise taxes (or succeeded in doing so) while in office. Ironically, Riley’s Democratic opponent, incumbent Gov. Don Siegelman, signed the ATR pledge.
Two current Republican candidates for governor — Arnold Schwarzenegger (Calif.) and Ernie Fletcher (Ky.) — have also refused to take the tax pledge after being approached several times. Caveat voter.