By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The second Special Session of the State Legislature begins with Speaker Mike Hubbard struggling for control. A group of hardcore conservatives are set to challenge Hubbard’s dirty tricks and manipulation.
A few weeks ago, a select group of representatives and senators met in Guntersville to clear the air and listen to some proposed budget solutions. Several who attended the meeting relayed that the group discussed how Hubbard has been poisoning the minds of many representatives, falsely spreading rumors that senator’s were “trashing them.” An airing of this problem was addressed with senators letting the representatives know that these were rumors invented by Hubbard in an attempt to divide and conquer. One representative said he felt betrayed by Hubbard, and that this latest “dirty trick” was going to backfire on the Speaker.
Hubbard is barley hanging on to power in the factious House. His power has been crippled, partly due to his willingness to raise taxes, but primarily because his personal emails convinced many members that he is actually guilty of the 23 felony charges filed against him.
Many once loyal soldiers have pulled away from the embattled Speaker. One legislator commented, however, that Hubbard was becoming more dangerous, not less: “He is like a wounded animal. He is lashing out in every direction. Even those once close to Hubbard now believe his days are numbered, and even some of his top lieutenants are turning their backs.”
Gov. Bentley has said he believes he has a deal with the House, a deal believed to be built on Hubbard. But, those in Guntersville seem unlikely to support a tax increase. Senators at the meeting warned the representatives present that revenue bills that raised taxes would be unwelcome in the Senate.
Bentley wants the session to focus on budget reforms and increases in growth revenue for the General Fund Budget, but there still appears to be little agreement on how this might be accomplished. House and Senate members over the holiday weekend have expressed little optimism for a smooth week ahead.
The Governor’s office appears beset on every side due to the inept handling of the First Lady’s divorce filing.
The Senate is divided on a solution, but not as embattled as the other two branches. It is roundly believed that they may very well reject any new revenue proposals that involve raising taxes. In both chambers there are those who want to fund Medicaid and prisons, then cut everywhere else.
The Governor is asking that the Use Tax be transferred from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund. This is an idea that has some traction in both chambers. The idea of moving the Use Tax and backfilling it later will surely meet with fierce pushback from the education sector. However, the Republican supermajority has not spent much time worrying about educators lately.
Legislators contacted over Labor Day didn’t seem to believe there was a consensus on any one plan.
The only thing they agreed on was that there were rough waters ahead.