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ALGOP passes resolution rebuking Bentley tax hike proposal

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Republican Party over the weekend elected new officers and passed numerous resolutions, including those in support of the “sanctity of life” and the “sanctity of marriage,” and in opposition to Common Core. But the most notable resolution of the weekend may have been the one passed to express the ALGOP executive committee’s overwhelming opposition to Gov. Robert Bentley’s proposed tax hike, a rare public rebuke of a party’s own sitting governor.

“Alabama is still in a state of recovery from the recent and extended recession that has gripped this state and the entire nation for the past several years,” the resolution said. “Be it therefore resolved that we, the members of the Alabama Republican Party State Executive Committee call upon Governor Bentley and legislative leaders to consider options other than an increased tax burden on Alabama citizens as a solution to the state’s fiscal problems.”

In 2010, then-candidate Robert Bentley seemed to agree with the state party that tax increases hurt the economy. He blamed the Obama administration’s tax policies for keeping the country mired in a recession longer than it would have been had the tax burden on individuals and businesses been eased.

“When you hurt businesses and you tax businesses, you’re going to lose jobs and we need to be creating jobs,” he said. He went a step further and signed Americans for Tax Reform’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” committing himself in writing to opposing all tax increases. During his most recent campaign, Gov. Bentley’s re-election ads also prominently displayed the words “No New Taxes.”

But after winning re-election, Bentley abandoned his promise, signaling that he will propose a $700 million tax hike in his State of the State address March 3rd.

Bentley was not in attendance at this past weekend’s state party festivities, opting instead to attend a meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C.

The night before the executive committee passed its resolution, hundreds of committee members and party activists donned stickers declaring “Read My Lips, No New Taxes,” referencing one of the most famous broken promises in modern politics, which cost then-President George H.W. Bush his re-election.

Sticker worn by party activists at the Alabama Republican Party Winter Dinner (Photo: Yellowhammer)
Sticker worn by party activists at the Alabama Republican Party Winter Dinner (Photo: Yellowhammer)

But in spite of the growing opposition from his own party, Bentley has remained undeterred.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat this, we need the money,” he said last week at an Early Childhood Education Leadership Summit.

He also took time to respond to the story, reported first by Yellowhammer, that he was strong-arming lawmakers into supporting his tax hike by threatening to withhold infrastructure funding from legislators who stood against him.

“I’m not trying to necessarily strong-arm anyone,” Bentley told reporters, “I’m just saying if you want highways in your district or if you want projects in your district, state dollars pay for those so you ought to be willing to vote for those [tax increases] in order to get projects in your districts.”

“I will say this,” the Governor concluded, “we will look more favorably on areas of the state that really do want to support our budget.”

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