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Details of Bentley’s call for a second Special Session reveal familiar proposals

Gov. Bentley signing bills in his office (Photo: Office of the Governor)
(Photo: Office of the Governor)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. —  Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) released details Thursday of his call for a second Special Session of the State Legislature to address the General Fund budget, including several proposals which have previously proven unpopular with lawmakers.

“This call is designed for the Legislature to solve the budget crisis that exists in the General Fund Budget,” Governor Bentley said.

“Over the last few months, I have met with House and Senate members to discuss options and ideas that would prevent devastating cuts to state services. I look forward to working with lawmakers over the next few weeks to bring about real change in the way we fund state government moving forward.”

A budget relying solely on reforms and cuts was vetoed by the governor in the Regular Session earlier this year, and the Alabama House and Senate failed to come to an agreement during the first Special Session in early August.

Lawmakers must confront the $200+ million budget shortfall that cuts state agencies, such as State Parks and Driver’s license offices. Governor Bentley has advocated increasing several taxes to make up the difference in the budget.

Conservatives in the legislature, however, maintain a combination of reforms and prioritized cuts can be passed to balance the budget while maintaining vital government services.

The governor’s call includes three budget reform measures paired with four familiar revenue increasing measures.

These three budget reform measures include:

  1. Transfer use tax revenue from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund
  2. Un-earmark certain state taxes
  3. Amend the Education Trust Fund Rolling Reserve Act

The four revenue increase measures:

  1. Amend the Business Privilege Tax
  2. Increase the Cigarette Tax
  3. Amend the individual income tax deduction for Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)
  4. Any other revenue measures that provide revenue for the General Fund

None of the governor’s tax increase proposals have earned a vote in either the Alabama House or Senate during the Regular or first Special Sessions, and transferring of the Use Tax to the General Fund has received push back, with opponents insisting more taxes be raised to “back fill” the Education budget.

Wednesday on Yellowhammer Radio with Cliff Sims, State Representative Ed Henry said he fears the tax increases have a better chance during the upcoming Session than they have before.

“I wish I could guarantee that taxes are off the table, that we had successfully beat back the tax push,” Rep. Henry explained. “There are a number of us that have laid our political lives on the line to stop taxes. We’ve done it for two sessions now. But I feel like the tide is starting to turn on us. They just keep coming back… I think they’re probably going to beat us this time. We’re not giving up. We’re going to war. We’re going to fight with everything we have to stop it. But I feel like there are too many people in office right now who have succumbed to this idea that the government needs more of your hard-earned income.”

The Alabama Constitution requires a balanced budget to be passed before the new fiscal year begins October 1st. The second Special Session will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday September 8.


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