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Alabama voters reject $1.2 billion tax increase

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama voters resoundingly rejected a $1.2 billion tax increase on Tuesday, delivering a crushing blow to their Republican governor, Bob Riley, who had staked his political career on the vote. His ambitious plan was to close a $675 million budget deficit, ease taxes on the poor and catapult the state's school system from among the nation's worst to one of the best.

Riley's background as a former congressman and acolyte of Newt Gingrich, who had never voted to raise taxes, cast a national spotlight on Alabama's fiscal crisis, even as other Republican governors from Georgia to Nevada have turned to tax increases to keep afloat. None, though, was as daring as Riley, who sought to bring his state's antiquated finances into the 21st century in one fell swoop.