Leadership deficiency

In an increasingly embarrassing effort to raise revenue without offending Grover Norquist, Gov. Robert Bentley is begging his agency heads to come up with new fees for the services they provide.
Norquist is the Washington lobbyist who came up with the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” that Bentley signed during his campaign to become governor.
Bentley already has given behind-closed-doors encouragement to state legislators to increase taxes to resurrect the state’s desperately deficient budget. He would have to honor his pledge by slowing down the tax increase with a veto, he said according to several who attended the meeting, but he would be happy to spend the money.
Last week, Bentley sent his finance director out to ask state agency heads for “ideas for legislation which could increase fees.”
The state, under severe proration this year, faces devastating cuts next year due to a chronic shortfall in revenue.
A pending bill would eliminate grocery taxes and eliminate a state tax deduction on federal income taxes. The two moves would create a net benefit for most Alabama taxpayers, reducing the regressive nature of the state’s taxation system.
It would also increase state revenue by $159 million. An amendment could direct some of that amount to the General Fund.
Maybe when Bentley signed the Norquist pledge, he thought the national anti-tax mania made sense in Alabama. Now that he is in office, he knows better. The only people who are overtaxed in Alabama are the poor and middle class, groups that would benefit from elimination of the grocery tax.
Bentley is a great believer in the concept of servant-leadership. It is time for him to show he is a servant not of Norquist, but of the people who elected him to office.


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Filed under Alabama politics, Tax reform

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