Tim James called for the repeal of a 2019 gas tax hike, a state grocery tax, and taxes on businesses and professions during a news conference in Montgomery on Wednesday.
The Republican gubernatorial candidate, who courted social conservatives during his candidacy, also accused Republican Gov. Kay Ivey of supporting an “ever-increasing gas tax” and attacked Ivey and the Republican Legislature in subject of a bill that allocates portions of a $1.8 billion surplus. money in the budgets this year.
“Every time I turn around, every day, I see an announcement that the Governor is giving away more money to these pet projects,” James told the Embassy Suites. “So she’s Mrs. Claus at Christmas.”
A message seeking comment was sent to Ivey’s campaign on Wednesday. James’s proposals are based on the expectation that the state’s economy will continue to grow and allow the replacement of the taxes he proposes to end.
The governor and other legislative leaders said a gas tax suspension or repeal would not have a major impact on gasoline prices. During an appearance at the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning, Ivey blamed “Biden politics” on rising fuel prices.
Related:Alabama Legislature 2019: Gas tax, prisons set to dominate session
Continued:Ivey Says No to Alabama Gas Tax Suspension, Blames Biden’s Policies for Rising Prices
Experts blame a combination of factors for the increase in prices at the pump, including an increase in demand with the economic recovery from COVID; a slow resumption of oil production by producers and the impact of US sanctions against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
James framed his proposals as recommendations to the Legislative Assembly, but said he would try to pass them if elected governor. He said he would suspend and then repeal the 2019 gas tax legislation, which phased in an increase from 18 cents per gallon to 28 cents, and indexed future gas tax increases to an index construction costs, limited to a maximum of one cent. every two years.
“Some argue that 10 cents a gallon isn’t a big deal,” James said. “That gas tax, when they did it, without the escalation, that penny was a 55% increase in that tax. This is unheard of.
The increase was the first in the state since 1992. Business and government groups backed the measure, saying the tax at the time did not provide enough money to maintain the state’s roads and bridges. ‘State.
From 2019:Ivey signs Alabama’s first gas tax hike since 1992
The candidate also said he would scrap the state’s 4% sales tax on groceries. Alabama is one of the few states to fully tax groceries, but efforts to repeal it have failed amid the $472 million the tax brings to the education budget and disagreements over how and the opportunity to replace lost income.
James also called for the complete repeal of the business privilege tax – the legislature is considering bills to get rid of a minimum payment – and the abolition or reduction of professional licensing fees, such as those cosmeticians and arborists.
He suggested the Legislative Assembly could use a projected $1.8 billion surplus this year to pay for programs. James also criticized some funding proposals in a $1.3 billion supplementary appropriations bill, including a proposal for $500,000 (of $5.25 million) to the Marine Environmental Science Consortium. for HVAC repairs and cafeteria modifications.
The bulk of the funding proposed in the supplementary appropriations bill ($652 million) will go to a school technology fund. $177 million will be used to repay state PACT bonds; $111 million will go to an education budget stabilization fund and $58.4 million will go to funding a one-time bonus for retired school employees.
James’ proposal relies on sustained economic growth to continue to pay for the cuts. The state education trust fund, which pays for public education in the state, derives almost all of its funding from income taxes and sales. The Legislative Services Agency has suggested last year’s growth was “abnormal” and a downturn could be on the horizon. State income and sales taxes collapsed during the 2007-09 recession, necessitating widespread cuts in school funding.
“I think lower taxes make the economy grow,” James said. “And this idea that we’re going into a recession, so we can’t cut, so we’re going to force people to pay more taxes, is backwards.”
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Brian Lyman at 334-240-0185 or [email protected].