In a meeting this past Friday, the Alabama Senate Ways and Means-General Fund Committee scrapped a House-passed budget that cut $156 million from Medicaid. Instead, the Committee opted for essentially the exact same budget that was passed and subsequently vetoed by Governor Bentley in Regular Session earlier this year. The current budget spreads cuts throughout various agencies funded by the General Fund, teeing up the legislature to pass a budget that would save taxpayers from hundreds of millions of dollars in tax hikes.
“There’s been very little impact with legislators during the course of the summer, from what I can tell, as to real concern over the budget and implications from cuts to the divisions of the government that are funded by the General Fund,” said Committee chairman Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur).
Gov. Bentley has indicated that he will yet again veto the budget, leaving no time for the legislature to override his veto and forcing them to go into a second special session.
Bentley, who has signed ATR’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge and ran on the campaign slogan “No New Taxes,” continues a proverbial assault on taxpayers with his unabashed push for tax hikes.
“We have to have some taxes, and we have to have some funding for the services people expect,” Bentley said.
In an effort to strong-arm the legislature, the governor said he wants written promises from the lawmakers who have said that they will vote for his proposed FICA deduction bill, as well as a promise to support an increase in the franchise tax, before calling them back to a second special session. Specifically, he is seeking a commitment from House Speaker Mike Hubbard that the House will not override Bentley’s third veto should the Senate fail to pass the FICA change and franchise tax in the next session.
Gov. Bentley is holding the budget hostage and risking a potential budget crisis, all for the sake of breaking promises and burdening taxpayers. If enough lawmakers cave to his demands the maximum franchise tax would be increased from $15,000 to $22,000, costing taxpayers an additional $39 million annually among various other increases totaling at least $300 million in new taxes.
ATR encourages the Alabama legislature to move forward with necessary spending cuts, and continue to oppose Gov. Bentley’s proposed tax hikes, which would be detrimental to both the state’s taxpayers and economy.