By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) said on Tuesday that his understanding was that the Senate was “not in the mood” for tax increases, and that with a $43 million estimated deficit in the General Fund Budget a lottery was an option.
Marsh said, “All options are a possibility, as I said, I don’t see tax increases.”
Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) pre-filed an open-ended lottery bill before session. Marsh said that he is open to look at anything.
Marsh said that he agrees with the Zero-based budgeting philosophy as an approach to agency funding, and that legislators would be looking at that approach during this session: “Everybody should have to stand up and defend the money that they are getting, and that should happen every year.” He said, “(we will) cut where we can, level fund where we can.” This is same approach that was taken with last year’s budget deficit a long with a few tax increases.
Rep. Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), is proposing a .12 cent increase in gasoline tax this session. Last year’s tax increases caused quite a bit of turmoil during last session.
Marsh reiterated, “My expectation, and what I have heard, is that this Body in not in the mood for tax increases, and they are not in the mood to take any money from education.”
Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Madison), Chairman of the Education Trust Fund, said that he was focusing on teacher pay raises this session, and if estimates hold true, he believes it could become a reality.
Marsh has a bill being drafted addressing teacher tenure. The bill initially contained a performance-based pay initiative that was dropped from the bill last week.
“This from my understanding is a very pro-education bill. It is about showing that we respect the profession of education and at the same time we have to show accountability to the people at home on Public Education. I think when all of the facts get out, which will be next week, I think most people will be on board with this legislation, in fact I hope everybody is,” he said.
The Senate is scheduled to convene beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday.