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State Republican Executive Committee says no to gas tax increase

The Alabama Republican Party sent a strong message that the party does not support plans to raise fuel taxes to finance more road projects, putting the party leadership’s legislative plans in question.

The Alabama Republican Executive Committee voted Saturday for a resolution urging the legislature not to pass a fuel tax increase.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey stated in her inauguration speech that she wanted a major effort to address roads and bridges as the number one priority. Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, the powerful Business Council of Alabama, the Alabama League of Municipalities, the Alabama Association of County Commissions and various trade groups have all agreed to support an increase in the state fuel tax.

State Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, is expected to introduce the bill which is expected to be a 66.7 percent increase in state fuel taxes to fund an ambitious road and infrastructure plan that includes dredging the shipping channel for the port of Mobile. The state tax on gasoline and diesel fuels would increase from 18 cents a gallon to 30 cents a gallon. Eight cents of the increase in fuel taxes would go to the Alabama Department of Transportation. Three cents would go to Alabama’s 67 counties and one cent a gallon would be divided among Alabama’s hundreds of towns and cities.

The resolution was sponsored by the Morgan County Republican Executive Committee and formally introduced by North Alabama businessman Tom Fredericks. The ALGOP Resolutions committee had recommended passage of the no fuel tax increase resolution.

Fredericks said that the plan was presented to the Morgan County Executive Committee and they were all opposed so decided that they needed to introduce a resolution opposing the tax increase in the price of fuel to the state executive committee.

Former state Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) introduced a motion to substitute Fredericks resolution with his own resolution saying that the executive committee supports Gov. Ivey’s efforts to improve Alabama’s infrastructure.

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After consulting with her parliamentarian, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan told Dial that because he had not presented his resolution to the party Resolutions Committee that his resolution would have to have two thirds to pass.

The executive committee voted to reject Dial’s substitute.

Former State Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) asked that the committee postpone this resolution until after the bill has been introduced and we know what it is.

Former State Representative Paul Beckman (R-Prattville) said, “We have seen this before.” This is the same 12 cent a gallon fuel tax increase that McCutcheon has been working on for the past two years.

The executive committee voted to reject the motion to carry over Frederick’s resolution.

The executive committee voted 61 percent to 39 percent in favor of the resolution urging the legislature not to vote for a fuel tax increase.

“What they won’t tell you…Alabamians pay in 8.7% of their hard earned dollar in cumulative state and local taxes,” Fredericks said in a statement. “We are on par with surrounding states, and much higher than Tennessee (at 7.3%). Until the archaic system of earmarking, whereby the legislature can effectively only control 7% of our revenue to address the needs of the state, coupled with powerful special interest groups are overcome, and the legislature becomes entrusted with the resources of the state, and has the will of the people behind them, it won’t get any better, regardless of how much money we throw at them.”

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“Don’t be played by special interests,” Fredericks said. “Get behind your elected officials, empower them, and then, demand accountability, efficiency, and pragmatism…and then, we will be able to run this state properly…It starts here, with a line in the sand, folks.”

State Representative Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant) has already come out in opposition to the fuel tax increase.

“Until we hold government’s feet to the fire, and get them to look at every option that they have, they’re never going to take a different road as far as taking care of the problem because it is so much easier to ask for more than it is to manage what you have,” Hanes told reporters.

Some House Democrats are opposing the fuel tax increase; because they view it as a regressive tax. Both the CEO and the company janitor have to drive to work; and pay the same fuel taxes; but the working poor pay a far greater share of their income in fuel taxes.

The Alabama Constitution Party is holding a No Gas Tax rally at the Alabama state Capital in Montgomery on Saturday, March 2 from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m.

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

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