- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on Thursday gave an open-ended call for next week’s special session, saying lawmakers can address any measure that would provide revenue to the state’s ailing general fund budget.

Bentley is seeking $260 million in taxes including a cigarette tax increase, changes to the business privilege tax and ending a state income tax deduction Alabama allows for FICA taxes paid and other budgetary changes. However, he said lawmakers may also consider “any other measures” to provide money to the general fund budget or boost state infrastructure.

“This call is designed for the Legislature to solve the budget crisis that exists in the General Fund Budget,” Bentley said in a statement. “Over the last few months, I have met with House and Senate members to discuss options and ideas that would prevent devastating cuts to state services. I look forward to working with lawmakers over the next few weeks to bring about real change in the way we fund state government moving forward.”

State agencies are without a budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Lawmakers have so far been unable to agree on how to handle a $200 million budget shortfall. Legislators largely rejected Bentley’s call for tax increases in the regular session and in the first special session.

“We will certainly consider at least some of the bills in Gov. Bentley’s call and various members have their own proposals they will likely bring forward, as well,” Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard said.

The open-ended call leaves lawmakers free to present other ideas. Some said they expect some lawmakers to introduce a lottery bill, an idea that state voters would have to approve in a public referendum.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said House and Senate leaders “have been working together on budgetary solutions.”

Marsh said he believed there was an agreement on smaller measures, such as the business privilege tax, which would raise about $30 million. However, he said many other revenue ideas had little support in the Senate.

“I believe that all parties are committed to passing a General Fund which ensures that we continue to provide the essential services of government,” Marsh said.

The second special session begins Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide