By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, January 12, at 10:00 a.m., Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) and Representative Alan Harper (R-Northport) will hold a press conference to announce their legislation to allow the people of Alabama to vote on whether or not the State will hold a lottery. The duo announced in a statement that the proposed legislation will be introduced in the 2016 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature that starts on February 2.
In July, polling commissioned by the Alabama Jobs Foundation, which was supporting legislation sponsored by Senate President Del Marsh (R-Anniston), was released showing that voters do not support higher taxes and this is true across all demographics: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Whites, and Blacks.
The polling was done by Target Point Consulting in Alexandria, Virginia 2014 or 2010 have at some point pledged not to raise taxes on the people of Alabama. The pollster asked likely voters: “In the last election, a number of elected officials in the state legislature promised during their campaigns that they would not raise taxes. Now a number of those legislators say they may vote to increase taxes to meet the demands of the state budget. Knowing that they are changing their position, how would this affect your vote for them in the next election? Would you say would vote FOR the candidates who vote FOR the tax increases or AGAINST the candidates who vote FOR tax increases?”
6 percent said they would ‘Definitely vote for’ the tax pledge breaking candidate; 17 percent ‘Probably For’; 25 percent said they would vote ‘Probably Against’; 38 percent were ‘Definitely Against’; 12 percent did not know what they would do and 2 percent refused to answer the question. Breaking your no new taxes pledge helps with 23 percent of the voters and hurts with 63 percent of likely voters.
The poll made it very clear that the people surveyed do not want their representatives raising their taxes. 80 percent of the people polled supported the lottery. 89 percent of likely voters said that they support the people voting on gambling versus letting the legislature or the governor decide the issue.
The Executive Vice President at Brombergs Frank Bromberg III said that over 80 percent of the people of Alabama supported the lottery and joked that the 10 or 11 percent that said “NO” didn’t understand the question.
The President of the Alabama Jobs Foundation former Auburn Head Football Coach and Athletics Director Pat Dye said in a written statement, “These results simply confirm what I hear from Alabamians across the state. They are ready to vote on this issue once and for all.” The voters are clear about what they support: an education lottery and gaming that brings jobs, revenue and economic development to our state.
The President and Managing Partner of Target Point Consulting Michael Meyers said that his group telephoned 809 likely voters in Alabama. 34 percent of those were on cell phones and they used live operators to ask the questions. Meyers said that the poll has a good mix of Democrats, Republicans and independents.
Senate President Del Marsh (R-Anniston) said then, “The voters of Alabama are speaking as loud and clear as they can on this issue. They demand the right to vote on this issue. They support my lottery and gaming constitutional amendment by large numbers. And just as important they do not support raising taxes, period.”
Despite that the legislature did not vote on the Marsh plan and instead raised taxes on cigarettes, nursing home beds, and prescription drugs during the second special session in September. Marsh has said that he will not reintroduce his plan for a lottery, a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians, and casinos at the State’s dog tracks.
The legislature is returning on February 2, and once again legislators face a likely $200 million shortfall in the General Fund budget. Will the legislature raise taxes on gasoline, diesel, income, banks, rental cars, car leases, tobacco, cigarettes, banks, and/or utility bills as some have discussed or will the people get to vote on a lottery or will the state finally downsize state government to match state income.
Will the McClendon – Harper lottery benefit the general fund, education, Medicaid expansion, or college scholarship? Those details have not yet been released