Legislation not good for our children

Published 11:51pm Monday, February 20, 2012

If you’re thrown from an airplane while wearing a parachute, you have decisions to make. How long will you wait before you do something? Will you panic or remain calm? However, one thing is certain, you’re going down but the landing is up to you.

Last week we were thrown from the plane as the Republican Supermajority pilot in the Alabama House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment that allows certain governor-approved corporations to keep their employees income tax withholdings.

The pilots are selling this amendment as an economic development bill meant either to create new or retain existing jobs. But in fact, this bill does not require a single job be kept or created to receive these benefits.

Some major corporations even threaten that failure to pass this bill will force them to move to another state causing Alabama to lose the jobs its corporations provide. These companies have invested millions of dollars to develop their plants within our state. Are they really going to crash the plane by deserting the plants within Alabama to rebuild in other states just because this particular incentive didn’t pass?

Secondly, only the governor can decide which companies receive these incentives. There is no legislative oversight as with previous incentive bills, such as the bill passed to bring Mercedes. This creates the potential for corruption with no oversight.

Lastly, this bill will divert millions of dollars from our schools.

The income tax withholdings is money that has been earmarked for the Education Trust Fund (ETF). Every dollar these corporations keep is another dollar that is being denied to our schools.

This year, I have supported legislation that would create a program to grant business loans to new companies that create a minimum of five new jobs. The money for this program comes from the Alabama Trust Fund, so taxes will not be raised. Because it is a loan program, this money would be paid back with interest.

The Republicans say the ETF will not lose dollars based on this legislation. To ensure our schools receive all of the funds, I offered an amendment that would reimburse the ETF from the Alabama Trust Funds should any money be taken from it; however, the amendment was tabled.

I voted against the Republican’s incentive plan last week, but the Republicans were able to force it through. Now it goes to the state Senate, where it is likely to pass. The amendment will have to be approved by the voters in November.

We can’t afford to strip more money from our schools. We cannot afford to crash. If this amendment is on the ballot, I hope you will pull the parachute’s ripcord.

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