Education

Alabama Voters Reject Tax Referendum

By Erik W. Robelen — September 10, 2003 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Alabama voters have resoundingly shot down Gov. Bob Riley’s $1.2 billion tax referendum, a plan the governor had promised would dramatically improve the state’s education system and the state along with it.

With all precincts reporting, 68 percent of the nearly 1.3 million Alabamians who went to the polls Sept. 9 said no, The Birmingham News reported.

One of the biggest obstacles the first-term Republican governor faced was a citizenry profoundly distrustful of government. Opponents capitalized on the sentiment, running ads that warned that state legislators couldn’t be trusted to spend the extra money on the programs promised by the governor.

The governor’s plan proposed to create merit-based college scholarships, extend the school year by five days, and expand the state’s reading initiative, among other measures. It also sought to impose new accountability demands on schools and state government.

As the results became clear, Gov. Riley said: “Ladies and gentleman, I have heard what the people of Alabama have said, and they said very clearly tonight, ‘We do want you to be good stewards, but we want a smaller government until you prove to us that you are stewards of our money.’ ”

Without the additional tax revenue, Mr. Riley has predicted, severe cuts to education and other government services will be needed.

He has projected that next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, the state will have a $675 million shortfall. The state budget for the current fiscal year is $17.1 billion.

The tax package would have rewritten the tax code and eventually would have raised an extra $1.2 billion each year, though the governor argued that many lower-income Alabamians would actually pay less in taxes overall. Alabama currently has the lowest combined state and local taxes in the nation.

Mr. Riley’s top selling point for the package was that it would transform education.

Beyond additional spending for schools, the plan also contained provisions to ensure better financial management by school districts, end tenure for some newly hired school administrators, and streamline the dismissal process for incompetent teachers.

“If you want to truly transform the state, you do it with education,” Gov. Riley said during an August interview with Education Week about the plan. “Think what it would do to this state if all of a sudden, people in America started saying, ‘If you want the best education in the United States, you’ve got to go to Alabama.’”

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP