By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, September 18, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan released a statement praising legislators on passage of Alabama’s State General Fund (SGF) Budget.
Chairman Lathan wrote, “At this year’s winter meeting of the Alabama Republican Party State Executive Committee, a resolution urging the governor and legislature to avoid solely relying on raising taxes to balance the General Fund budget was passed by a large majority of our members. To reiterate our Party’s desires, I sent a letter to the Republican members of the Alabama Senate, the Alabama House of Representatives and Governor Bentley stressing our concerns about balancing the General Fund budget while funding the needed services of our citizens.”
The conservative party Chairwoman continued, “After much discussion and analyzing our budget problems, our elected officials got the job done. Although not everyone might agree on the path they have taken, they cleared this challenging financial hurdle. While we understand that there are critical services that should have high priority, we also know that there is waste and duplication of many government services. The legislature defeated several proposed tax increases and negotiated down others, reformed the budgeting process, trimmed and cut state government spending and shored up the General Fund Budget.”
Lathan wrote, “The Alabama Republican Party has never blinked on our belief of lower taxes. We must now turn our sights toward the 2016 election where we will work hard to elect a much needed Republican president, protect our GOP seats and add more Republicans to our team.”
The $1.72 billion General Fund budget was passed by the Alabama Legislature Wednesday night and signed by Governor Robert Bentley yesterday morning. The SGF budget was passed in the Alabama Senate with a vote of 23 to 9 and by the Alabama House of Representatives with a vote of 71 to 21. Following the passage of the General Fund budget, both the Senate and the House moved to adjourn the second Special Session.
As recently as August, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) was urging passage of a $1.9+ billion SGF budget. In the 2015 regular session the legislature passed a more austere $1.62 billion general fund budget. That budget was vetoed by Governor Bentley. This budget fully funds Alabama Medicaid, Mental Health, Corrections, ALEA; but cuts many other state agencies by five percent. Hardest hit was the state Auditor’s office which saw its budget decrease by an incredible 25 percent (the version of the budget that passed out of the House cut the auditor by 63 percent. While Republicans rejected Gov. Bentley’s plan to tax people’s contributions to Social Security, car rentals, banks, public utilities, sodas, etc the legislature did raise the tax on cigarettes by 25 cents, charged a $400 per bed nursing home tax, and taxed pharmacies.
Lathan is a former school teacher and the former chairman of the Mobile County Republican Party.