Governor Bentley not calling for new taxes in 2016 session

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) - In 2015, Governor Robert Bentley proposed $541 million in new taxes to avoid budget cuts.

Following almost a full calendar year of going back and forth with legislators, his appetite for new revenue has disappeared, with no plans for any new taxes.

"If we probably would've got the $541 million, we would've been having budget hearings and there would've been folks down there saying they need more," said Representative Mike Ball.

Governor Bentley announced he's going from $541 million, to zero. With no plans for raising taxes.

"The Governor understood where the legislature was," said Senator Arthur Orr, not surprised by Gov. Bentley's announcement. "The people of Alabama, by and large, didn't want to see a bunch of new taxes."

And legislators fought those taxes. Regular and special sessions led to a cigarette tax but pretty much everything else was shrugged off.

"We wound up forging out a compromise but it was not particularly productive. It was very frustrating," said Rep. Ball.

Not wanting a repeat of last year, legislators don't want new taxes either.

"The other alternative is taking money from education and I see no appetite to do that," said Sen. Orr. "What does that leave you with? Either cutting or something like a lottery; and I think that's why a lottery will get a lot of debate this legislative session."

Agencies have already asked for millions more this year. But no new taxes puts them in a tight spot.

"They could use more but they have to understand, well, there ain't no more. Hopefully they come up with wide ways that have the minimal negative impact on the public," said Rep. Ball.

Medicaid and state prisons have critical needs, but many agencies may face more cuts.

Gov. Bentley says going forward, his focus will be pushing his agenda, set to be revealed at his State of the State address.

Legislators return to Montgomery for the 2016 legislative session February 2.

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