By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) is determined to raises taxes. So determined, in fact, that a bill that was voted down in committee on Wednesday, will be voted on again in the same committee today.
During the Wednesday Ways and Means Education committee meeting, Republicans voted down House Bill 587, which would place a sales tax on lubricating oils. This is one of the package of bills being pushed by Hubbard. Following a motion for a vote by Democrat Rep. Patricia Todd, which was seconded by Republican Rep. Ed Henry, the measure was voted down, with nays coming from Henry and fellow Republican Reps, Phil Williams, Alan Boothe and Donny Chesteen.
After the vote an irate Hubbard, confronted the legislators and according to those with knowledge of the encounter, threatened projects if the bill was not brought back to the committee with a favorable report. He also instructed Henry to bring the bill up for a vote. It has also been reported that Hubbard told Boothe he lost millions in funding for Troy University.
The bill is said to be back in committee today.
According to legislators who spoke on conditions of anonymity for fear of retaliation from Hubbard, the Speaker was “unhinged.”
Sponsored at Hubbard’s direction by Republican Rep. Terri Collins, the bill would increase the sales tax receipts by an estimated minimum of $10 million annually to be credited to the Education Trust Fund by applying sales tax to lubricating oils. This bill will also increase use tax receipts by a small, undetermined amount to be distributed 25 percent to the State General Fund and 75 percent to Education Trust Fund by applying use tax to lubricating oils. This bill will decrease excise receipts by an estimated $1.8 million annually by removing excise tax on lubricating oils which would decrease the receipts as follows: (1) by an estimated $600,000 to the State General Fund, (2) by an estimated $550,000 to the Public Road and Bridge Fund, and (3) by an estimated $650,000 to the counties and cities.
It has been estimated that this tax would shift the cost of a 55-gallon barrel of lube oil from $3.30 to $200, a 5,960 percent tax increase. Those costs would obviously be passed along to the consumer.
This is just one of the tax increases that Hubbard has insisted be passed by the House. Hubbard is looking to raise around $100 million with new and higher taxes.
It is believed that Hubbard is desperate to increase taxes because of a deal he allegedly cut with Gov. Robert Bentley to sign an exclusive gambling compact with the Poarch Creek Indians (PCI), in exchange for raising taxes.
Several House members are alarmed at Hubbard’s behavior and worry that he is going to ruin their political futures in order to negotiate a monopoly compact with the Tribe.
One nervous House member said, “Hubbard may be in prison before next year, but I am going to have to run for reelection with his tax hikes wrapped around my neck.”