By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, March 31, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) addressed the members of the Capital Press Corps, including the Alabama Political Reporter, in an informal press conference at the Alabama State House regarding his legislative priorities during the 2015 Legislative session.
Governor Bentley spoke individually with legislators on the floor of both the Alabama House and Senate on Tuesday, while both Houses were in session. Afterwards, the Governor spoke with reporters.
Gov. Bentley told Alabama reporters, “I like to get together with these guys. I was in the House before I became Governor and I served with 90 percent of them. Most of the ones that are new I campaigned for.”
Reporters asked the Doctor turned Governor what his legislative priorities for the session were. Gov. Bentley said, “There are a number of bills that I am following.” We need the economic incentive bills.
Bentley said that he was also working hard for his revenue bills. There has been a revenue problem with the general fund for a long time. “We are going to get it solved,” Gov. Bentley predicted. He said he was “optimistic” about the prospects of his package of revenue bills passing.
The Governor has proposed additional revenues to address a projected $271 million shortfall in the State’s troubled General Fund, as well as to pay money owed to the Federal government and stop using education and road dollars for General Fund needs. The Governor’s $541 million revenue proposal would raise the taxes on cigarettes, tobacco, car sales, car rentals, insurance, and public utility bills.
The Governor said that he was working hard to get HB58, one of economic incentives bills passed in the Senate that day. Bentley said that the economic incentives bills are important because the State of Alabama, “Needs to be able to compete with surrounding states.”
HB58 went on to pass in the Senate and was signed into law by the Governor on Friday, April 3 – the first of the five bills in the “Made in Alabama Economic Incentives” package to pass into law.
Gov. Bentley said that the State especially needs economic incentives to help rural counties. Bentley acknowledged that that bill was tied up over disagreements about how to define a rural county. Bentley said that even Jefferson, Madison, Montgomery, and Mobile Counties had portions that were undeveloped, but said there are whole counties that were undeveloped. He indicated that he favored the more restrictive definition of what was a rural county.
Bentley said also, “My wife cares very much about the domestic violence legislation.”
The second term Governor also announced that on Tuesday, April 7, he will be appointing a Healthcare task force. Bentley said that he was ready to appoint 37 people to the new board. The Governor said that the members of the committee need to leave their “turfs” at the door and come together to bring a better healthcare system for the people of Alabama.
Regarding his job, Governor Bentley said, “I love what I am doing.”