By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, August 31, State Senator Paul Bussman (R-Cullman) said that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) is making more threats about what he and the Montgomery bureaucracy are threatening to close, if legislators don’t cave in to the Governor’s demands. The Governor wants another $300 million in taxes for the troubled State General Fund (SGF).
Sen. Bussman said in a statement on Facebook:
“New week. New threats from the bureaucracy in Montgomery. Last week it was closing parks, driver’s license offices, medical services, and hunting and fishing services. This week: IF YOU DON’T PAY MORE TAXES, we will close the forensic lab and morgue in Huntsville. And here is the awful way they threatened: “Five months after the body of Alabama A&M doctoral student Lavanya Abburi was found floating in a pond at the school’s research farm, investigators still don’t know exactly how she died.”
Sen. Bussman continued:
“Abburi’s case – and hundreds of others awaiting forensic analysis statewide – were dealt another blow on Monday, as Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences director Michael Sparks announced the possible closure of the Huntsville morgue. Oh and by the way, AL Law Enforcement announced this weekend that if you don’t pay more taxes they will begin to close the Driver’s License offices immediately on Oct 1. Like I said last week, if you don’t pay more taxes, the bureaucracy intends to inflict as much pain on the taxpayer as possible. I am sick of the ‘Montgomery Kingdom.’ It will change and I will be leading the fight.”
Legislators remain all over the board as to whether or not that they should raise taxes as the Governor has requested.
State Senator Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville) said on Facebook:
“I have met with people everyday since the session has ended and spoken with them about our budgets. So far, each meeting has gone the same with the people in or district saying ‘use the money that the State currently receives and make it work but do not raise taxes.’”
Sanford has backed a plan that would move about $225 million in use taxes from the Education Trust Fund (which is expected to be the largest in Alabama history) to shore up the SGF and ensure that it has some growth dollars going forward. In the future, Sanford supports dividing the available dollars with 72 percent going to education and 28 percent going to the general fund.
State Representative Alan Harper (R-Northport) opposes the Sanford plan and supports some version of the Bentley tax plan. Harper wrote in a statement on Facebook:
“Alert!! Please contact your state representatives and senators to voice your opinion against combining our state budgets. We have an Education Trust Fund Budget and a General Fund Budget. The Education Trust Fund Budget is working well and has kept us out of proration (education cut backs) for the past four years. We must protect our children, teachers and support personnel by turning back the pirates that wish to raid and plunder our Education Trust Fund. The General Fund needs repair. It needs continued self examination to provide for more efficiencies where possible and an infusion of permanent growth revenues. I can support moving some of the growth tax from the Education Trust Fund Budget, along with the obligations, to the General Fund…as long as there is a plan for “back filling” the Education Trust Fund. Call or email your representatives now as there is a serious move to combine the budgets. When have you ever seen something good combined with something not so good and the outcome was a better product? It does not happen. Don’t combine the budgets! Parents and educators…this is a call to arms…an urgent call to arms to contact your elected officials. Don’t sit on the sidelines, take action. Please share this and share over and over to spread the message. Thank you.”
The legislature is expected back in session for a second Special Session in mid-September with no consensus among legislators about whether to cut, transfer, or tax the budget into balance. The fiscal year ends in just 30 days and no state general fund agency can know with any degree of certainty what their budget is going to be on October 1, with any certainty.
Pro-tax “establishment” Republicans are threatening to block any plan without tax increases, even if that means the State goes into October without a budget.
On Friday, August 28, it was revealed that Gov. Bentley left his wife, Dianne, in January, and that Mrs. Bentley filed for divorce.
State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) has called for the Governor to step aside and let the legislature handle the budget without his being involved.