Bentley: We will pass a tax hike, even if it takes 10 special legislative sessions
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Governor Robert Bentley told a group of business and community leaders Monday during a speech in Birmingham’s Harbert Center that he will get his tax hike proposals passed, even if he has to call for 10 special sessions of the legislature.
Bentley’s proposed $541 million tax increase has yet to gain momentum in the legislature, as both the House and Senate have focused on their own agendas during the first half of this year’s regular session.
Legislators, many of whom ran on keeping taxes low, are hesitant to openly support the Governor’s tax proposals.
Bentley, who also ran on no new taxes, indicated in his remarks Monday that the stance against taxation during his first term was only possible because of federal government bailouts.
“The first four years, what I said was, we were not going to raise taxes,” Bentley said. “Now, why did I say that? Because the four years before we had been given four billion dollars by the federal government that it covered up all of the problems that we had in the state.”
According to the Governor, every possible cut or reform to state government has now been made. He said it’s halftime in his tenure as governor, adding that you win in the third or fourth quarter.
While the state’s general fund’s shortfall is estimated to be approximately $260 million for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins in October, the Governor said the tax increases are also needed for future years, as well as to pay back back money borrowed from the state’s various rainy day funds.
“Now we’ve got four more years to solve this problem and I’m telling you if I have to have ten special sessions, we’re going to get it done,” he said.
Each special session, which can only be called by the Governor to address a specific issue area, costs taxpayers nearly $100,000 a week according to the Legislative Fiscal Office. Special sessions can only last a total of 12 legislative days over 30 calendar days.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015