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Riley set to address Escambia County

By By Tim Reeves Special to The Standard
Gov. Bob Riley stepped to the podium, discarded his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, and issued a challenge to the state's newspaper editors and publishers, asking them to bring the debate about the proposed $1.2 billion tax and accountability plan "from the back pages to the front page."
The address was made Sunday at the 132nd annual Alabama Press Association meeting in Orange Beach.
On Thursday, Aug. 7, Riley will bring his message to Escambia County with a 6 p.m. public meeting at Flomaton High School.
Ruth Harrell, who is helping lead the effort to educate the public about the tax reform package on a county level, said Riley would address specifics about his plan as well as take questions from the public.
On Sunday, Riley told the group of newspaper executives that there are a lot of misconceptions about the tax reform package, and that it is important to get the facts and truth in front of the voters.
Riley was preceded by John Rice at the convention, a former GOP state legislator from Opelika and an active member of the Tax Accountability Coalition, a group formed to oppose Riley's tax package. Rice seemed angry at times with recent stories and headlines about the plan.
Sunday was also the day the Birmingham News released a poll showing support for the plan wavering among state voters.
Rice said the extent of the funding shortfall the state is facing is not in question, but the amount of money asked of from the people, "just doesn't make sense."
Rice, whose group has not come out with a funding plan in place of Riley's package, said a short-term statewide sales tax increase could be used to fill the projected $675 million shortfall in the state's budgets.
But Riley pushed the long-term benefits to the plan - a plan Rice called the "billion-dollar deal, hitting on what he claims were deals cut with special interest groups.