House Minority Whip Joe Hubbard (D, Montgomery) was one of 6 Democrats to vote for HB159, setting up a statewide vote on whether millions in tax dollars should be taken from the Education Trust Fund to induce corporations to locate or remain in Alabama.
Hubbard's press release, uncut, is below the fold. In it he stresses bipartisanship and “putting Alabamians back to work.” He also says. “The political discourse in this State has pitted jobs growth against our school children, and it’s just not so.”
Maybe that is “just not so,” but as the legislature portions out Alabama's very limited tax revenue, funding for education is definitely pited against funding for industrial recruitment or jobs growth. That is the reality now (HB159 makes it explicit) and will remain the case as long as the legislature refuses to expand the revenue pie.
So my questions for Hubbard, House Minority Leader Craig Ford (who earlier explained his “yes” vote by saying that it's in the best interest of his district, which includes Goodyear) and the others who voted for HB159 are thus:
- Is giving tax dollars to corporations in exchange for bringing jobs to Alabama or retaining jobs already here a good deal for taxpayers? At some point the taxpayer stops breaking even on the deal and starts directly subsidizing private industry. Where is the cost/benefit analysis and are we at or past the break even point yet?
- Why should the statewide education budget be cut to retain Goodyear jobs in Gadsden? This argument seems to be very much about keeping the Goodyear plant in Alabama. That's definitely important in Etowah county and even in surrounding counties, but why should schools in Franklin county or Hale county or Baldwin county take a hit so the state can pay ransom for jobs in Gadsden?
- Do good schools attract good jobs or vice-versa? Why make this into a chicken or egg game between education and jobs at all? Find a way to fund both. And if the money has truly stretched as far as it will go, then it's obviously your constitutional duty to find additional revenue sources.
Press release from Rep Joe Hubbard, 2/20/2012
Democrat bucks party to join Republican in passing historic jobs bill
State Representative Joe Hubbard, D-Montgomery, crossed party lines last week to help pass an historic jobs package proposed by Governor Robert Bentley. Hubbard, the Minority Whip in the House, was one of only six Democrats in the House to vote with 60 Republicans to ensure passage of the entire jobs package. Republicans needed 63 votes to send the set of bills to the Senate. The final measure passed by a margin of 66-22, with 15 not voting. Hubbard, who worked with his Republican colleagues to amend to bills, helped provide the necessary votes to get them passed.
“Every one of us ran on jobs,” said Hubbard. “It’s not a Democrat or Republican issue. Putting Alabamians back to work should be the priority of every member of this Legislature, regardless of political party.” Hubbard recognized that some legislators have different philosophies when it comes to job growth. “But, we’ve got to stop letting petty partisanship get in the way of sound policy,” said Hubbard. “This is good legislation that puts Alabamians back to work, and it matters not whether it was authored by Democrats or Republicans. It will take all of us working together for this legislation to be successful.”
House Bills 159 and 160, sponsored by Rep. Barry Mask, R-Wetumpka, would authorize the Governor, the Alabama Development Office, and the Alabama Industrial Development Board to offer tax incentives to attract companies to Alabama. The incentives are based on the number of jobs created and the amount of capital expenditure invested in Alabama. The package also offers retention incentives to help keep critical Alabama industries, like the Goodyear Tire Plant in Gadsden, from being lured away by other states.
The bills faced stiff opposition from the teacher’s lobby, the Alabama Education Association, which maintained that the bills would drain unlimited funds from the Education Trust Fund. “These bills are an absolute threat to schools and every educator in the state, and it will be the beginning of the end for the Education Trust Fund,” said AEA Executive Secretary Dr. Henry Mabry. He described the legislation as costing “hundreds of millions of dollars every year. The cost would be billions over time.”
“The political discourse in this State has pitted jobs growth against our school children,” said Hubbard, “and it’s just not so. No one wants to jeopardize our children's future, but their future tomorrow depends on job creation today.” Hubbard maintained that job growth benefits school children by putting revenue into the Education Trust Fund as more Alabamians get back to work. Hubbard said the revenue expended on incentives would be off-set by the sales and property taxes paid by formerly unemployed Alabamians. “We are at a critical time in our State’s economy,” said Hubbard. “If we have to invest some tax dollars to spur private-sector job growth, we will see a greater return on those dollars when Alabamians get back to work. That’s a good investment.”