By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, said that hard working American families deserve to take home more of their paychecks, and President Donald Trump’s tax plan will make that happen.
“As most folks across East Alabama have seen in the news lately, President Trump and Congress are working together to help make our broken tax code fairer and simpler,” Rogers said. “The House and Senate have both passed the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution which clears the path to start tax reform and it has been quite some time since this has happened.”
Rogers said that the last time the tax code was reformed, “Guy Hunt was elected first Republican Governor of Alabama in over 100 years, Auburn’s Bo Jackson was first pick of the NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, The Bangles were topping the charts, The Oprah Winfrey Show made its first national broadcast, Teddy Ruxpin was every child’s dream toy and the TV show “Dallas” brought Bobby Ewing back from the dead….the year was 1986.”
“Now Congress will begin the overhaul by simplifying our tax code,” Rogers said. “Hard-working American families deserve to take home more of their hard-earned paychecks, and President Trump’s tax plan will help make that happen.”
Rogers said that the plan will make it easier to file and be, “As easy as filling out a form the size of a postcard.”
According to Rogers: the plan will save families time and money; lowering tax rates and level the playing field for small business; close special interest loopholes; help encourage investment back in America, “And help bring more good-paying jobs back home.”
“I support President Trump’s efforts to reform our broken tax code to make things easier on the hard-working families across East Alabama,” Rogers announced.
Rogers said that Americans can learn more about the plan at:
Sign up for SMS notifications on tax reform by texting “TAX REFORM” to 50589.
On Tuesday, the House Republicans released a statement on tax reform: “The special interest ghouls will do anything to protect all their little tricks and treats. They will haunt the hallways and demonize our plan. They will conjure up new scare tactics and spread wicked tales. They will cast us as bogeymen and attempt to distract us with Hocus Pocus. You will hear Stranger Things said about this bill than you can imagine. These poltergeists want you to be frightened. That’s because, for the skeletons of the status quo, our plan is a Nightmare on K Street. We will clear out the cobwebs and throw those scary carve outs into the graveyard. We will slash tax rates for families, double the standard deduction, consolidate the existing Se7en brackets, and increase the Child Tax Credit so you can keep more of what you earn. Instead of the same mysterious brew of booreaucracy, we will simplify things so that you can do your taxes on a form the size of a postcard. And if that doesn’t lift your spirits, this plan will also give everyday hardworking families a monster pay raise—witches very good news.”
“There’s a reason we haven’t reformed the tax code since 1986—It takes real guts,” House Republicans wrote. “But we cannot accept the current system as the new para-normal. The Thing to remember is that we now face a choice: We can continue to slide down this path of stagnant growth and flat wages, or we can Get Out of this rut, renew the American idea, and usher in a renaissance of growth and prosperity. We know this post is a little bit candy corny—at times enough to make you Scream—but The Shining opportunity before us could not be more clear. So don’t be spooked, and let’s get this done.”
“Our country and our economy cannot take off like they should unless we reform America’s outdated, complex, and extremely burdensome — I mean, this is so complicated and so burdensome — our tax code. Our painful tax system has become a massive barrier to America’s economic comeback. It really is; we’re penalized. It costs us millions of American jobs, trillions of dollars, and billions of hours wasted on paperwork and on compliance. Our tax code is a giant self-inflicted economic wound,” President Donald Trump said in a speech in North Dakota.
“If we want to renew our prosperity, restore our opportunity, and reestablish our economic dominance — which is what we should be doing — when we need tax reform that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro-family, and, yes, pro-American. Our tax plan represents a sharp reversal from the failed policy of the past. America’s high tax rates punish companies for doing business in America and encourages them to move to other countries.”
“Here are my four basic principles for tax reform: First, we need a tax code that is simple, fair, and easy to understand — unlike what we have. Our tax code has gotten ridiculously complex. This complexity leads to massive frustration, wasted time, and wasted money. Second, we will cut taxes for middle-class families. This is a major, major tax cut — the biggest since Ronald Reagan. Third, we need a tax code that restores our competitive edge so we can create more jobs and higher wages for American workers. Our plan will provide tax relief to businesses of all sizes. And we will cut the business tax rate as much as possible. Ideally, we would like to bring our business tax rate down to around 15 percent. That’s a tremendous drop. We’ll also dramatically reduce the tax rate for America’s small businesses which have created more than 60 percent of new private-sector jobs in the recent past. Tax relief is on the way for millions of sole proprietors, LLCs, and partnerships who report their income to their personal — and they do this — they put it on their personal tax returns. People think of it as a business, but it’s on their personal tax returns. Those people, with those businesses, will be tremendous beneficiaries. We are not going to allow the death tax or the inheritance tax or the whatever-you-want-to-call-it to crush the American Dream. Not going to let it happen. We’re going to reduce the tax rate on American business so they can keep our jobs in America, create jobs in America, and compete for workers right here in America, meaning higher wages and greater profits for companies. We must bring back trillions of dollars in wealth that’s parked overseas and just can’t come back. Our tax system penalizes companies that bring wealth they have earned overseas back to America. As a result, corporations have parked trillions of dollars in foreign countries — money that could be and should be brought back into the United States where it can be invested in America companies, in American jobs, and American workers. Our tax plan will give these companies a chance to bring back these funds — and bring them back and spend it in cities and towns all across our country.”
Republicans are optimistic that they can pass their tax reform plan before Christmas.
Rogers represents Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District.
Tuberville calls for term limits, balanced budget and lobbying reform
Tuberville has also made a major media buy across the state to trumpet this message.
Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville’s campaign began emphasizing key structural reforms that the Republican nominee hopes to advance if elected to the U.S. Senate including congressional term limits, withholding lawmakers’ paychecks unless a balanced budget is passed and a ban on former officials becoming lobbyists.
“Only an outsider like me can help President Trump drain the Swamp, and any of the proposals outlined in this ad will begin the process of pulling the plug,” Tuberville said in a statement. “Doug Jones has had his chance, and he failed our state, so now it’s time to elect a senator who will work to fundamentally change the way that Washington operates.”
Tuberville has also made a major media buy across the state to trumpet this message.
“You know Washington politicians could learn a lot from the folks in small town Alabama, but Doug Jones … he’s too liberal to teach them,” Tuberville added.
Polls consistently show that term limits are popular with people across both political parties, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that imposing term limits would be adding a qualification to be a member of Congress and that can only be done by constitutional amendment.
It is an unspoken truth that when Americans send someone to Congress they never come back. They either keep getting re-elected like Alabama’s own Sen. Richard Shelby, who is in his sixth term in the Senate after four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. On the other hand, they may become lobbyists getting paid to influence their colleagues on behalf of corporations, foreign governments or some well funded non-government organization.
Tuberville said he would ban that practice.
A balanced budget amendment almost passed in the 1980s and again in the 1990s.
Since that failure, Congress has increasingly passed bigger and bigger budget deficits. The U.S. government borrowed more money during the eight years of President George W. Bush’s presidency than the government had borrowed in the first 224 years of the country combined.
President Barack Obama followed and the TARP program propped up the post-Great Recession economy. Rather than cutting the deficit, President Donald Trump invested billions in the military and a tax cut without cutting domestic spending. The 2020 coronavirus crisis has further grown the budget.
The government has borrowed trillions to prop up the economy and provide stimulus while investing billions into medical research and treating the virus victims. Congress is currently debating a fifth stimulus package that would add more to the deficit.
Both a balanced budget amendment and a term limits amendment would have to be ratified by the states if passed by Congress. Tuberville is challenging incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.
House passes General Fund Budget
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.
The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.
Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”
Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.
The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.
Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.
Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.
The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.
Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.
The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.
Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.
The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.
In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.
SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.
Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”
State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”
The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.
The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.
The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.
The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.
Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.
SB185 passed 101-0.
Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.
Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1 for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.
SB215 passed the House 87-0.
The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.
State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.
SB231 passed 87-2.
The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.
The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.
The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.
Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.
Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.
Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.
Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday
By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter
The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.
Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.
Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.
The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.
Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.
Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.
Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.
Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.
Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.
Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.
The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.
Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.
It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.
Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor
By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter
Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.
The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.
Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.
Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.
Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.
- Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)
Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.
Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.
The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.
Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.