By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, February 16, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) was in a closed meeting with Alabama’s Republican legislators promoting his plan to pass massive tax increases on the people of Alabama to pay for expansions in State government. Meanwhile, a growing number of conservatives are coming out against the proposed tax increases, even though Gov. Bentley has yet to release his final plan.
State Auditor Jim “Zig” Zeigler (R) was the first statewide elected official to give an opinion on the tax increase proposal. Zeigler said on Facebook: “While Governor Bentley is saying he will raise taxes for the next four years, his Facebook page says, ‘NO NEW TAXES.’ “We should use this ‘shortfall’ as an opportunity to right-size government down to the amount of money available — just like families do when their income drops.”
State Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) said in a statement on Facebook, “Let’s work together to grow the economy! That’s the best way to raise revenue and NOT raise taxes! I’m a proud Alabama Conservative!”
Deanna Frankowski with Alabama Constitutional Conservatives told the Alabama Political Reporter that she agrees with and supports the Alabama Legislators who say there are more cuts that can and should be made starting with focusing on combining budgets and departments, cutting pork and looking at where current taxes are earmarked before considering raising taxes.”
Republican State Senator Slade Blackwell, wrote in the Trussville Tribune, “We have serious budgetary issues, but the Republican majorities weren’t elected to raise taxes on Alabamians. That is more than a simple political statement. As legislators, we know what it means: Either we find revenues through ending waste and duplication or we must choose which programs to end or reduce. Simply put, our responsibility is to work within the parameters provided by our constituents. If Alabamians would rather pay more taxes than face cuts to state programs, they had a funny way of showing it at the ballot box in November.”
Frankowski said, “Citizens in Alabama are still living on tight budgets without raises, bonuses, jobs, etc. and this should be first and foremost in the minds of our Legislators before they consider any tax increases!”
The conservative web site, Yellowhammer News has questioned why Bentley has not surrounded himself with people with strong conservative credentials. Of particular interest, is why a Republican Governor would hire Democratic Speaker of the House Seth Hammet to be his Chief of Staff instead of a proven conservative Republican?
Rep. Butler said on Facebook, “Gov. Bentley is a very good man. I think he is getting some bad advise is all.”
This is not the first time that a Republican Governor has pushed massive tax increases on the people of Alabama. Just months after being sworn into office, Governor Bob Riley (R) came to the people of Alabama and told them that he needed another $billion a year in tax money to move the State forward and avoid catastrophic cuts to State services. 62 percent of the people of Alabama did not believe him and voted NO on his controversial Amendment One proposal. The State did not crash and the State experienced no calamities.
Frankowski said, “We all remember the ‘cry wolf’ scenario of the Riley Administration in 2003 claiming that ‘over 400,000 senior citizens would be forced out of nursing homes, schools would close and convicts would run free.’ When Amendment One failed, none of these dire consequences happened. Conservatives and Republicans should be unified on this issue which has always been and always should be tax cuts first.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has repeatedly said that the State can cut general fund programs 8 percent across the board.
During the campaign, Governor Bentley touted his post Great Recession vow not to raise taxes and his ability to cut $1.2 billion a year from projected State spending.
Frankowski said, “How is raising taxes in-line with Governor Bentley’s campaign promises and how he says he cares about his constituents? It appears that Governor Bentley is taking a page out of President Obama’s playbook by saying one thing on the campaign trail and doing another when re-elected. Does the phrase ‘you can keep your doctor’ ring a bell? If Governor Bentley can show the voters he can balance the budget in a sensible, fiscally responsible manner and without threatening Legislators who don’t support him, he may regain the trust of Alabamians but in the meantime we don’t foresee this happening.”