By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) signed The People’s Trust Act, HB 94. The People’s Trust Act will require that the state repay the $437 million that the state is raiding from the Alabama Trust Fund. The bill sets up a repayment schedule that will lead to all the money being paid back by 2026. The bill was sponsored by State Representative Jay Love (R) in the Alabama House and by Senator Bryan Taylor (R) in the Alabama Senate.
Sen. Taylor said on Facebook, “Today Gov. Bentley signed our bill to repay every dime borrowed from the people’s Trust Fund. The bill provides a structured payback with annual installments over 10 years, and my Senate amendment puts it on “automatic draft” so that repayment isn’t left up to the whims of future Legislatures. Proud of my Republican colleagues and for making this fiscal responsibility measure the first law enacted in 2013Proud of our Alabama Senate Republicans today for passing legislation (over the Democrats’ filibuster) to do the fiscally responsible thing for the future of Alabama and fully repay the $437 million being borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund as a result of the Sept. 18 statewide amendment.”
Gov. Bentley said, “We made a commitment to the voters that the Alabama Trust Fund would be repaid, and we are fulfilling that commitment. We are also working to find more savings and make government more efficient. Over the last two years, we have identified $750 million in savings. From that total, more than $528 million in savings have already been realized, and the rest of the savings will be realized in future years. Working with the Legislature, we will reach our goal of identifying a billion dollars in savings by the end of this term.”
Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said, “Our Republican legislature is once again standing on strong fiscal responsibility in relationship to the repayment of the $437.4 million that voters approved in September to be transferred from the Alabama Trust Fund to prop up state budgets for the next three years. The Republican led House passed HB94 last week, which mandates that the money be repaid to the Alabama Trust Fund. Today the Senate passed this legislation after adopting an amendment by Sen. Bryan Taylor that guarantees an automatic and annual appropriation to the Alabama Trust Fund to repay transfers within 10 years or less. This amendment will make sure that this legislature and future legislatures do not simply kick the can down the road as had been done so many times in the 136 years of Democrat control in Montgomery.” Sen. Taylor said, “Like the version I introduced in the Senate, House Bill 94 by Rep. Love establishes a structured payback schedule requiring the Legislature to pay back the transfers from the ATF within 10 years or less. The Senate agreed to my amendment to make the repayment automatic. In other words, my amendment ts this repayment plan on “automatic draft,” so that if future Legislatures for any reason fail to vote to make a payment, it doesn’t matter — the Trust Fund will be repaid anyway as the money is automatically transferred pursuant to this bill.”
Rep. Love said“As a small business owner, I understand that people judge you not just by your words, but also by your actions, and I am proud to sponsor a bill that keeps a public commitment made to the citizens of Alabama.”
Taylor said, “This bill means the Legislature won’t have the ability to spend this money; because it will be required to go back to the Trust Fund, the Legislature will have to continue on the path of cutting costs, eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse, and streamlining government to make it leaner and more efficient. And that’s really the whole point. This bill will force the Legislature to continue implementing the reforms necessary to ensure state government lives within its means.”
Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn said “Republicans take our vows to the citizens of Alabama very seriously. We promised that we would repay the trust fund, and unlike decades past where Democrats made promises to taxpayers and then quickly swept them under the rug once the election was over, we kept our promise by passing this bill unanimously in the House. We prioritized our work to ensure that this was the first bill put before Governor Bentley, and we accomplished that goal.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R) from Auburn said, “Before we asked voters to authorize borrowing money from the trust fund, we promised that anything borrowed would be repaid in full. This important legislation guarantees repayment and honors our commitment to voters. I appreciate the hard work of all senators who supported this legislation, particularly Senators Taylor, Allen, Bussman, Holtzclaw and Sanford.”
To avoid severe budget cuts to the Alabama General Fund the 2012 legislature passed a measure to raid $437 million from the state trust fund. Voters approved the measure in September.