That loud clanging noise you heard yesterday in Montgomery was the Republican supermajority kicking the fiscal can down the road – for at least 3 more election cycles. Looks like the Alabama Trust Fund will just have to wait for its promised repayment of the $437 million the GOP demanded last year because they were unable to balance the state's budget.
Rep. Jay Love sponsored a repayment bill (HB94) with a massive loophole that akin to those loopholes from the 2010 “ethics reform.” You know, the ones hidden into a supposed “good government” bill that instead allow “business as usual” to continue unabated:
The bill by Love says that the funds “shall be repaid to the Alabama Trust Fund by no later than Sept. 30, 2026.” The bill gives a schedule of the amount that shall be repaid each year.
A Democrat noted his child in preschool would be an adult by the time the money was paid back and questioned if future lawmakers could push back the payments.
“Could (a future) legislature come back and change the number 2026 to 2036?” Rep. Joe Hubbard, D-Montgomery, asked.
Love acknowledged lawmakers could do that by passing another bill. But Love predicted lawmakers would face the wrath of voters if they did that.
Rep. Hubbard offered an amendment to require repayment within 6 years – not 13 – but Rep. Love opposed it. This amendment is similar to the bill that Hubbard sponsored.
In their rush to pass Love's bill, the House hasn't even held a hearing on Hubbard's repayment plan (HB177) that – unlike Love's – repays the money with interest and funds the repayment via a cigarette tax:
This bill would propose a constitutional amendment to require the repayment with interest of the funds transferred from the Alabama Trust Fund pursuant to Amendment 856 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, within six years following the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015; to provide the procedure for the repayment of the funds transferred from the Alabama Trust Fund pursuant to Amendment 856 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901; to increase the tax on cigarettes by an additional 50 mills on each cigarette;
The Alabama Republican Party promised to be the party of “fiscal responsibility” and boldly asserted in 2010 that they could balance the budget by eliminating “wasteful spending.” But their actions speak a lot louder than their campaign promises. The Alabama GOP supermajority is just another con artist with a credit card.