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Opposition to Gov. Ivey’s fuel tax increase grows

A new Political Action Committee has been formed to fight Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s proposed fuel tax increase. On Wednesday, Stop the Alabama Gas Tax responded to Ivey’s announcement of her proposal to increase the state’s gas tax.

Ralph Long is the chairman of Stop the Alabama Gas Tax.

“Gov. Kay Ivey has just proposed the largest gas tax increase in the history of Alabama, more than double that of any Democrat governor in the state’s history,” Long said. “Her proposal is a knife in the back to voters. We elected her to clean up Montgomery’s abundant fiscal woes, not increase our taxes to satisfy Montgomery lobbyists.”

Alabamians currently pay an 18 cent tax on each gallon of fuel. Ivey’s proposal involves a 10 cent gas tax increase, which would phase in over a period of three years: $0.06 in 2019, $0.02 in 2020 and $0.02 in 2021. Ivey’s proposal will increase the gas tax by an amount over three years that was last achieved over 57 years, 1923–1980.

“The governor’s proposal amounts to a 56 percent fuel tax increase on the people of Alabama,” Long said. “This proposal is nothing short of disastrous for lower- and middle-income families who are finally experiencing some economic relief due to congressional Republican tax cuts and simply cannot afford the additional tax burden.”

Saturday, the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee passed a resolution urging legislators to oppose any fuel tax increase.

Josh Dodd is the newly elected Secretary of the Alabama Republican Party.

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“Just this past Saturday, the Alabama Republican Party spoke loudly and clearly with the passage of a firm resolution in opposition to the gas tax,” Dodd said. “We expect our Republican legislators to listen to the will of the Republican Party.”

State Auditor Jim Zeigler has proposed his own plan to improve roads without raising the fuel tax, that he calls “Plan Z.”

Zeigler told APR that his plan would raise over $60 million a year for roads and bridges simply by not diverting money from fuel taxes to fund other things, including courts and state troopers. Zeigler told APR that more than $300 million has been diverted from roads and bridges over the last ten years.

Thursday, Zeigler told APR that Ivey is planning to call a single issue special session on the regular session begins and that leadership plans to hold legislators in Montgomery through the weekend to force a “Yes” vote on Ivey’s gas tax increase.

“This is a strategic move to try to isolate the gas tax in a one-issue special session,” Zeigler said. “Also, it appears to avoid the need for a 3/5 vote to pass a ‘Budget Isolation Resolution.'”

APR talked to sources within the Ivey administration, and they say that this is a possibility but that no decision has been made yet.

“Over the past 10 years, Montgomery politicians have raided $300 million from our road and bridge funds,” the chairman of ALABAMA FIRST and the Committee to Stop the Gas Tax, Don Wallace said in a statement. “It is a shame that Republican leaders believe raising taxes on Alabamians is going to make us more prosperous. That statement is more akin to something we expect to hear from Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, or ‘AOC’ than supposed-conservative Republicans. Punishing Alabamians with perpetually increasing taxes is frankly immoral.”

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“These higher taxes will stunt our economic growth, limit our future prosperity and continue to subject our citizens to congested and dangerous roads,” Wallace said. “I look forward to having the debate, and I’m very optimistic about it.”

House Democrats have indicated that their caucus will oppose the fuel tax because it is a regressive tax and disproportionately hurts the working poor.

State Rep. Tommy Hanes, R-Bryant, has already expressed his opposition to the plan.

“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.

Opponents to the fuel tax increase are holding a rally on Saturday in Montgomery at noon in front of the Alabama Statehouse. The rally is being sponsored by the Alabama Conservative Coalition, which combines the efforts of several organizations.

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

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