By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
After five years of passing millions of dollars in tax cuts for big businesses and billion-dollar, out-of-state corporations that, in some cases, pay zero state income taxes, Republicans in the state House of Representatives are about to raise taxes on working men and women.
Only six months after campaigning on a pledge to create more jobs and never raise taxes, House Republicans have traded in that “jobs, jobs, jobs” campaign slogan for “taxes, taxes, taxes.”
Not since former President George H.W. Bush said, “Read my lips: no new taxes” have Republicans so blatantly broken their campaign promises and fully endorsed a tax package that raises taxes on Alabama families!
Had Republicans passed a lottery bill last year, they wouldn’t be raising your taxes this year. And make no mistake about it: these tax bills will mean less money in your pocket.
The worst of these taxes is the proposed tax increase on lube oil. Lube oil is used in everything from manufacturing and farm equipment to the motor oil you put in your car. What this bill does is change the tax on lube oil from an excise tax to a sales tax. That means that, in addition to the state sales tax, local county and municipal sales taxes will also kick in.
In hard numbers, this means the tax on a 55-gallon barrel of lube oil will go from $3.30 per barrel to as much as $200 a barrel. That is a 5,960 percent tax increase! And this tax will be passed on to you, the consumer.
So when you go to buy fruits and vegetables for your family and the price has gone up because farmers had to raise their prices, it will be because of the Republican tax package.
When you go to change the oil in your car and the price has gone up, it will be because of the Republican tax package.
When you buy a car and you have to pay a higher fee for your car title, it will be because of the Republican tax package.
When manufacturers (the only sector of Alabama’s economy that has grown and the reason why our unemployment rate hasn’t gone up over the last five years) have to lay people off or put on hold their plans to expand and create new jobs because their costs have gone up, you know it will be because of the Republican tax package.
Forget about bringing new industry and manufacturing business to Alabama! Anyone thinking of coming here is going to look at this and think to themselves, “Sure, they promise you all these tax incentives to come there, but then once you get there the legislature will raise taxes on the infrastructure you need to do business.”
So much for all that rhetoric about being a “business friendly” state.
But what makes all these tax increases so much worse is that Republicans campaigned on pledges not to raise taxes, knowing the whole time that they were going to raise taxes.
This crisis is not new. Legislators have known since 2012 that this day was coming. That’s when Republicans chose to borrow $437 million from the state’s savings account over three years to avoid a government shutdown. But now that money has run out, and it still took Republican leaders until almost two-thirds of this legislative session was over to finally release their plan – and that plan is to raise taxes!
Shame on Republicans for promising not to raise taxes when they knew all along that raising taxes is exactly what they were going to do!
My dad raised me to believe that a man’s word is his bond, and you don’t make a commitment that you know you can’t keep. Now, Republicans are preparing to violate those values and their own pledge not to raise taxes.
This tax package shows that Republicans are not ready to lead our state. Across Alabama, people are working harder but making less, and they don’t deserve to have their taxes raised. There are better options out there than more taxes on working people. And the only thing worse than raising taxes is lying about raising taxes.
Six months ago, Republicans won the election on a platform of creating jobs and no new taxes. This week, Republicans are trading in that “jobs, jobs, jobs” slogan for “taxes, taxes, taxes.”
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.