By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday, February 13, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) announced in a speech in Birmingham that he plans to spend the next four years of his second term raising taxes on the people of Alabama.
Gov. Bentley’s controversial remarks were made to a luncheon of PARCA (the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama) and its many corporate supporters.
Gov. Bentley said, “For the next four years we are going to raise taxes.” The Governor admitted that this will be difficult but said that at the end all of us are just ashes and dust, “I would rather burn in ashes than not try. I would rather be ashes than dust.” “We are going to work hard. The people who work for me are going to work hard. We are going to make a difference.”
Gov. Bentley said that when I leave in 4 years I want the people of Alabama to say about his term in office, “He loved me. He cared about me.”
11 years ago Governor Bob Riley (R) proposed raising everyone’s taxes by over $1 billion a year. The popular former Congressman from Ashland had managed to get virtually every lobbyist in Montgomery, the Alabama Education Association (AEA), the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), the Alabama Roadbuilders, the Alabama School Superintendents, the nursing homes, state employees union, etc. to support the proposal. Gov. Riley had his key lieutenant in the House, state Representative Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) introduce and carry the bill for the Governor. The then Speaker of the House Seth Hammett (D), now Gov. Bentley’s Chief of Staff, pushed the bill hard and it sailed through the legislature. All the old mainstream media pushed the importance of passing Amendment One and bemoaned the supposed calamities the state would face if the people voted no on the special referendum and a vast sum of money was expended by special interests promoting the amendment one plan.
The people of Alabama soundly rejected Gov. Riley’s tax increases. 62 percent of the voters of Alabama said no, they did not want to grow Alabama government and opposed any of the Governor’s proposed Draconian tax increases.
The Alabama Political Reporter asked Gov. Bentley: “Eleven years ago Gov. Riley proposed over $1 billion in tax increases and said that bad things would happen if the people voted ‘NO.’ The people voted ‘NO’ and nothing bad happened, how is this time different?”
Gov. Bentley said, “It is different. I was there eleven years ago and it is different now.”
Gov. Bentley admitted to reporters, “The people don’t trust government. I don’t trust the federal government.”
Gov. Bentley said that the state is facing a projected $265 shortfall in the general fund budget. On top of that Bentley said that we owe the federal government $272 million because the people at Alabama Medicaid made some mistakes in the program. The state also owes the federal government $53 million on the CHIPs (Children Health Insurance Program).
Gov. Bentley said, “We pay our debts.”
Gov. Bentley praised the work that Sen. Cam Ward has done on Alabama’s prison reform.
Bentley said that the prisons need another $40 or 50 million a year. “I am not going to be a governor who pushes problems aside.”
The Governor said that the state currently takes $187 million out of the education fund to prop up the General fund and takes $65 million from the Alabama Department of Transportation to prop up the courts and the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
“We have been doing things in a dysfunctional way.”
When Bentley said, “The next four years we are going to raise taxes,” there was sporadic applause from the room of ~300. Bentley said, “For the ten of you who applauded, I thank you.”
Gov. Bentley said, “We have to face the problems and we have to do it with boldness… I am going to present a plan to the legislature to do it. I am going to push for it.”
The Governor said that will do everything he can do to convince the legislature to pass his plan which he expects to release in a week.
“We are doing it for the people of Alabama.”