Opposition is forming to Gov. Kay Ivey's proposed gas tax increase. Ivey says the 10-cent hike is necessary to fix aging roads and bridges. The plan is supported by Republican legislative leaders, and some of the state's most powerful special interest groups, including the Business Council of Alabama.
But opponents contend that the state needs to stop diverting money intended for infrastructure. State Auditor Jim Zeigler says the state raids $63 million dollars per year from the highway funds, and uses the money for other purposes, including the courts and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Zeigler estimates a total of more than $300 million dollars has been diverted.
The gas tax increase is expected to be a major issue when the legislative session begins next week. On Friday, Ivey tried to make the case for the hike, during an appearance outside the Capitol. "Y'all, it's been nearly three decades ... since there's been any change in Alabama's investment in infrastructure," Ivey said, referencing the last gas tax hike in 1992.
But Ivey faces opposition from within her own party. The Alabama Republican Party state executive committee last week voted to oppose an increase. "It was 61 percent who were opposed to the gas tax, so it's a pretty overwhelming majority ... that are opposed to it, the party's Secretary, Josh Dodd, said. Dodd is working with a newly formed PAC, "Stop the Alabama Gas Tax," to defeat the proposal. Political observers say Ivey may call a special session, because of parliamentary rules that make it easier to pass the tax hike. In a regular session, a procedural vote to move the bill requires support from three-fifths of lawmakers. But in a special session, the tax hike could pass with only a simple majority.
Photo: Getty Images