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Gas tax bill expected on floor of House today

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

House Bill 487 sponsored by Representative Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) raises taxes on fuel in three phases across Alabama over the next seven years. HB487 is on the calendar to be voted on in the Alabama House of Representatives today. The money would be used to pay down a massive $2.4 billion new bond debt.

State Representative Isaac Whorton (R-Valley) asked Facebook followers and constituents, “Please take a look at the gas tax bill below. Short version is that this bill would provide for a 4 cent tax increase in 2017, 2 cent in 2019, and 3 cent automatic increase in 2024 unless there is a joint resolution to remove the 3 cent increase. The bill would authorize the issuance of a total of $2.4 Billion dollars in a bond or a series of bonds to be paid over the next 20 years. Bond rates are about 4.25 percent at this time. The debt service at that rate would be approximately $179 million annually if issued as one bond…if the rates were to increase to 5 percent, the debt service climbs to $191 million. Of course, there are always costs involved in borrowing money and a fair estimate of that cost is around 1 percent of the bond amount. Half of the borrowed amount would be divided between counties and municipalities and half would go to ALDOT. The percentage division between counties and cities is currently being negotiated (started at 20 percent to cities bit I think it may be 30 percent now).”

State Representative Tim Wadsworth (R-Arley) also asked for opinions of voters on Facebook, “HB487 Gas Tax bill is first on the special order calendar tomorrow at 11:30 am. I have an opinion. I WANT YOUR OPINION. FACTS – It is a 9 cent gas tax increase. $2.5 billion bond would be issued- $179 million yearly payment if money borrowed @ 4.25. if 5 percent $191 million yearly repayment per year. 4 cent gas tax would generate $123 million per year beginning 10/1/17. 2 cent gas tax beginning 10/1/19 would generate $63 million year. 3 cent gas tax beginning 10/1/24 would generate $100 million per year. The State would repay bond over 20 Years . The total repaid would be $3.6 or $4.0 billion. (Walker County would receive $12.5 million one time money) (Winston County would receive $11 million one time money) The balance would go to ALDOT. Money used for roads and bridges. Roads would generally need to be repaved in 10 years. PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR OPINION.”

Alabama Constitutional Conservatives Co-founder Cindy Monaghan-Holcomb opposes the tax increase. Monaghan-Holcomb said, “Only in Alabama and only in the Republican Party would we both ask for the resignation of our corrupt Republican Governor on one day and begin proceedings to pass a tax increase the next. One would think the day after the forced resignation and criminal charges of our Republican Governor, who had been exposed for gross misuse of taxpayer funds, that our Republican legislators would reach out to the citizens of Alabama in embarrassment and apology, vowing to be a more transparent and accountable governing body.”

Monaghan-Holcomb said, “To the contrary, our REPUBLICAN representatives seized the opportunity to use the distraction as a cover to pass a gas tax on the people of Alabama without their knowledge.”

Alabama Legislative Watchdogs Chair Ann Eubank told The Alabama Political Reporter, “What happened to the Republican promise that they would “drain the swamp” after Speaker Hubbard was convicted and new leadership took over?”

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Eubank said, “A cabal of crony capitalists and their Republican accomplices have again decided to fleece our wallets for their own benefit and profit. After emptying the education coffers with Common Core they are now after “Infrastructure” money.”

Chair Eubank charged, “For years money has been diverted from the Department of Transportation’s budget to fund other areas. Now, because our roads and bridges are in such bad shape, it’s time to pay the piper. No new taxes or bond debt should be discussed until the House Budget Reform Committee submits its report of exactly how much money the DOT has and/or receives from ALL sources, or if there are other monies that can be used. However, because House Leadership chose to “fast track” this bill, it will be voted on before the report is released. Why is that? What are they afraid of?”

Monaghan-Holcomb said, “I am having a hard time remembering why it is I have chosen to be a Republican. After all, it was my understanding we were the party of smaller government and less taxes. Since the Republicans gained control of Montgomery, we have had one tax increase attempt after another. As most of the members of our legislature will neglect to inform their constituents that they will be voting on a bill tomorrow to increase the gas tax, I would ask that you please share the info with your friends and family.”

State Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) said, “Those who are pushing and supporting it will be voted out in 2018. Which is why I predict it will be a House Cleaning Bill.”

Eubank said, “The burden of this increased cost of gas will impact the least of us most; low income workers and the elderly on fixed income. Elect us and we promise NO NEW TAXES and we will shrink the size of government. If this bill passes, Republicans will have broken both of those promises. 2018 can’t get here fast enough.”

State Senator Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville) said on social media, “I was correct “Gas Tax” on the fast track and will be on the House floor tomorrow. Nothing like ramming thru a $2.4 BILLION tax hike and bond issue in 3 days. At least we now know the priorities of the House Leadership. Time for some new Sneakers! Maybe two pairs.”

If HB487 passes the House it goes to the Senate where some conservative senators are threatening to filibuster. Powerful special interests, including the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), the road builders, the trucking companies, and the County Commissioners are pushing for the tax increase. They claim that spending the $2.4 billion on roads will allow the State to recruit more jobs.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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