While we're all busy fighting the “bright shiny object” of all the anti-abortion legislation this term, some Alabama legislators are busy in other matters. Let's call it… “this week in corporate welfare” why don't we? GOP Representative Barry Mask successfully passed his bill HB159 – with Democratic support – in the House & it's now in the Senate. He has also been successful with its companion
corporate giveaway economic development bill – HB160.
Both bills have drawn criticism because they seem likely to drain money from the Education budget. Remember Mooncat's warning:
An internal memo from House Republicans says it all: “[the bill would] divert from state coffers an unlimited amount of income taxes that would otherwise be deposited into the Education Trust Fund.”
Fortunately, these bills are finally getting some serious attention – even from Republicans. The Montgomery Advertiser reports:
One key budget chairman said he wants to look at changes to the bill, possibly including a time limit on the credit and greater oversight of the process.“We're basically subsidizing the elimination of jobs, and we set a precedent with people potentially incentivizing other companies to look at this mechanism going forward,” said Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee. “I think it deserves a lot of scrutiny, and I think it needs some modifications to the retention aspect to make sure we limit its applicability.”
In most areas of the state, new and expansion projects would be able to withhold up to 90 percent of their employees' taxes to pay off capital costs of new or expanded projects if they employ more than 250 employees.
What's happening in the meantime? We're trying to do more with less, even as we're planning to let employers collect taxes – and keep them.
Who suffers the most? Those with the smallest amount of power and influence in the state – children.
Before addressing these severe budget issues, the AL GOP leaders quite naturally focused on their real priorities: cutting taxes because raising any new revenue is off the table. Heck, they're even willing take the taxes Alabama workers pay and hand them directly to businesses!
It appears that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is working on his own version of an NCLB law: “No Corporation Left Behind.” Because that sounds a marginally better than what's really happening:
“Leave All Children Behind.”
This weekend, I heard a persuasive case presented that the Alabama Democratic Party really cares about people. Now I want to see some action that proves that. Let's all contact our Senators and ask them to either amend HB160 or kill it entirely. Find your Senator here at OpenBama.org.