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Alabama Faces Deep Cuts

State officials see dire consequences in the budget because voters rejected a tax increase.

September 12, 2003|From Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — State officials whose pleas for a tax increase were soundly rejected by voters are offering grim predictions about the budget-cutting consequences, including an increase in crime and traffic deaths.

At news conferences Thursday, officials said the cuts that Gov. Bob Riley will formally propose Monday will hurt health care and education and lead to more crime and car accidents because state trooper patrols will be reduced and parole will be stepped up for nonviolent inmates.

"My advice would be for people to do what they can to lawfully protect their homes and families," said Atty. Gen. Bill Pryor, like Riley a Republican and a supporter of the $1.2-billion tax plan that Alabama voters rejected by a 2-1 ratio Tuesday.

Riley has been meeting with legislative leaders and state department heads to prepare reduced budgets that the governor will recommend to the Legislature in a special session starting Monday. The Legislature must approve budgets before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Drayton Nabers, Riley's finance director, said the governor wants to increase paroles from about 80 per week to about 200. Pryor said the change would have dangerous consequences, given that roughly 25% of Alabama inmates commit another crime within two years of their release.

"These individuals are not all going to go back to the community and engage in law-abiding activities," Pryor said at a news conference.

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