The question is, do lawmakers have no regard for where this money came from? The $1.283 billion supplemental appropriation represents most of the ETF’s $1.330 billion carryover balance from 2021. All of that surplus was funded on the backs of hardworking Alabamians. They took too much money from the people.
Now they want to use your money for a display at the World Games, to renovate dorms at the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium, and to purchase new training props for the Alabama Fire College, among others.
After taking over a billion dollars more than needed from taxpayers, what are lawmakers doing to provide relief to the people of Alabama? Not much. They have offered only targeted tax relief to citizens, totaling less than $200 million, of which many Alabamians will never see.
With the $1.3 billion appropriated by this bill, Alabama could fully repeal its state sales tax on groceries for several years and provide relief from rising food prices. State government could provide personal and corporate income tax relief to families and businesses still recovering from the pandemic. With gas prices nearly a dollar higher than they were a year ago and straining family budgets, government could provide relief from the $.10 gas tax hike enacted in 2020. But none of these issues are gaining traction in Montgomery.
The additional $1.3 billion appropriation increases the 2022 budget by nearly 17% compared to when it was enacted less than a year ago and 24% compared to fiscal year 2021. And that doesn’t include $4.5 billion in federal funding that has gone towards education in Alabama and will continue to be spent over the next two years.
If this bill becomes law, education funding will have increased by 35% in just three budget cycles. What does the state have to show for it? The state ranks 42nd in per pupil spending yet ranks 52nd (dead last) in math scores and near the bottom in reading scores. Throwing more money at Alabama schools has not and will not fix the problem. Meanwhile the Parents Choice Act, which could unlock school choice for the students and parents of the state and improve education, faces numerous obstacles in the legislature.
It is time for lawmakers to stop investing in record government and invest in the people of Alabama instead. The legislature should vote ‘No’ on House Bill 138.