By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–Governor Bentley announced Wednesday that he plans to introduce an executive amendment to HB658 that would postpone the tax credits from the Alabama Accountability Act.
This bill contains proposed changes to the Alabama Accountability Act, legislation intended to provide greater flexibility to public schools. If his amendment passes, the tax credits and scholarships will not go into effect for two years.
Bentley said the delay in implementation was needed in order to be more fiscally responsible and to make sure that the $423 million borrowed from the education trust fund can be repaid.
Furthermore, the Governor said that the delay gives schools classified as “failing” time to improve. “My goal is to have zero failing schools in the state of Alabama,” Bentley said.
“Since day one the governor and I have been on the same page when it comes to helping children out of failing schools with tax credits and scholarships. I look forward to talking with the governor about any technical changes he may want to see made to the bill,” said Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh.
Still, others felt that the decision to delay implementation was a campaign tactic.
“This is a band-aid approach to the Accountability Act,” said Representative Craig Ford (D-Gadsden), the House Minority Leader.
“The Republican supermajority is just trying to get through the next election and hope the voters – especially educators – will forget about this. But the people of Alabama will not forget about this. The only solution to the Accountability Act is to repeal it,” Ford said.
Bentley has said that the bill was never designed to help private education. “Flexibility is still the most important part of the Accountability Act,” Bentley said.
Monday, May 20 is the last day of the 2013 regular legislative session. The Governor’s executive amendment must be approved by both chambers for the bill to become law. The Legislature can override his amendment with a majority vote in both the House and the Senate.