By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The legislature goes back into session on August 15, 2016, to consider Governor Robert Bentley’s (R) lottery proposal to boost General Fund revenues; but that is not the only issue that could come up in the Special Session. Another issue that is likely to be brought up during the torrid, Summer Special Session, is that six-cents-a-gallon gas tax increase, that failed to pass in the 2016 Regular Session. Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) is still adamant that the State spent more money on roads and bridges.
The County Commissioners want to be able to spend more money on roads, the Alabama Department of Transportation, the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and the powerful road builders also want to see more funding for roads.
Sen. Dial reportedly told the Alabama County Commissioners Association (ACCA): “The poor condition of Alabama’s roads and bridges is adversely impacting the safety and overall quality of life of Alabama citizens—not to mention our economic development opportunities. We must generate a new revenue source to provide enough money to fix our deteriorating transportation system.” Dial claims there is strong support for the tax increase among legislators.
ACCA Executive Director, Sonny Brasfield believes that concern about voter reaction hampered the legislators’ ability to have serious debate about new revenue during the regular session. Brasfield said, “It’s becoming clear though, that Alabama voters recognize the urgency of this issue. At the local level, citizens say they are willing to make new investments in our infrastructure, but only if they are assured those dollars are spent responsibly.”
Under Alabama law, revenue bills have to be started in the House. State Representative Mac McCutcheon (R-Madison) introduced the gas tax bill in the last session. McCutcheon did not bring the bill to a vote in the full House citing fears of conservatives in the Senate successfully filibustering the legislation.
Rep. McCutcheon will be promoted to Speaker of the House on August 15, after disgraced former Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) was convicted on 12 counts of felony ethics violations in a Lee County Courtroom on June 10.
Alabama motorists currently pay 16 cents per gallon to the State of Alabama. The Federal government collects another 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24 cents per gallon on diesel fuel. County and municipal governments also levee their own taxes on fuels. According to gaspricewatch.com, Alabama averages 39.3 cents of taxes per gallon of gas and 46.3 cents in taxes on every gallon of diesel bought for over the road use. The proposed 12 cents a gallon State tax increase would raise that to 51.3 cents on gasoline and 58.3 cents on diesel.
The McCutcheon bill included automatic gas tax increases if other southern states raised their fuel taxes. The money generated by the tax would have gone to all 67 counties rather than being prioritized for the counties with the most growth.