Governor makes case for more state tax money

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Tuesday night, Governor Robert Bentley laid out his vision for the state of Alabama’s future. The biggest challenge most political analysts say is a massive $700 million budget gap.

Mr. Bentley wasted no time making his case for tax increases.

“The budget I will send you will contain 8 separate tax increase proposals – which are fair and necessary – for a total of $541 – Million dollars in estimated increased revenue. We must also free up funding so that our Legislature can better manage where the money goes.Ninety-one percent of all state revenues for both budgets are already earmarked. Alabama has the highest percentage of earmarks in the country, by a huge margin.”

Governor Bentley minced few words about Alabama’s money trouble.

“Revenue must increase. There must be growth money in the State’s General Fund. The budget I will send you contains specific solutions. If we are to pay our debts, cover the shortfall and create a stream of growth revenue for our stagnant General Fund we must look to increase our revenue. We must look at all sources, and tax fairly.”

The governor says the un-earmarking of state income will help fund state public schools.

“I will propose we unearmark some of those funds so that we can better determine the needs of our state and steer the taxpayer dollars where they will be best used. The plan I am proposing will replace the funds that we unearmark and create more money in the Education Trust Fund. The results will be an estimated $250-300 million more dollars for K-12 Education, the State’s 2 Year systems and Higher Education. “

The Prison Reform Task Force is coming up with a new way to tackle prison reform … another huge challenge for Governor Bentley’s administration.

“The blunt facts are alarming. Alabama’s state-operated prison facilities — the most overcrowded in the United States — are operating at more than 195-percent capacity. We have been forced to rely on short-term fixes that have proven costly, dangerous and disorganized.”

Governor Bentley did not address any ethics issues, or discuss ethics laws. Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard was indicted on 23 ethics charges and has a trial date set for October.

Mr. Bentley also did not address any issues related to gambling, gaming, and a lottery. Gambling consistently get tossed up, and subsequently shot down, as a revenue stream for Alabama.

Read the full text of Governor Bentley’s address by clicking here.