Art Parker headshot

Under the cover of darkness and through the back door - That was the road travelled by those shoving the gas tax down our throats.

There is no doubt our state’s infrastructure needs attention. No doubt. And I never mind paying a tax if we truly need it and if the legislative process is open and honest from the get-go.

We knew that a gas tax would be on the table before the legislative session began. What we didn’t know was that the leadership in this state was never going to consider anything else and was willing to short circuit the normal steps of our republican government to stick it to us. Furthermore, we were ambushed with an indexed tax for the future. Talk about a liberal’s dream come true… a periodic guaranteed tax increase in the years to come!

With their minds made up, and with a “new” legislature coming into town, the Governor and her legislative henchmen plotted the way to make sure the people were mistreated under a cloud of deceit and their representation caught with little or no options.

The Governor called a special session within a regular session. This tactic assured that her gas tax would face less resistance in terms of time and alternatives. It is extremely difficult to offer other legislation in a special session since a “call” by the Governor pretty much establishes the agenda to be discussed. Secondly, the legislation wasn’t subject to a Budget Isolation Resolution (BIR) as is required in a general session. A BIR requires three-fifths approval by the Legislature. A potential sixty percent stumbling block and extra procedural step, was eliminated with the special session, hence requiring one simple majority vote.

If the gas tax is the “right thing” to do, why operate in such a covert way?

With things in place for the road of least resistance Ivey’s cohorts, the legislative leadership, turned up the steam and pressure, especially on the new guys who are faced with “go along or you get nothing” treatment for four years. Some of the things I have heard shock me. One example of the pressure was to parade freshman legislators in to the Governor’s Office and require them to sign their names under yes or no. Cowardly, power hungry acts by those supposedly called leaders.

What bothers me more than the procedural events is the blatant disregard for alternatives. The legislative process exists so that the best course of action for the people can be determined. This was never in play. The powers that be didn’t want to hear alternatives. I would like for these so called leaders to explain what good is a representative government if you are going to behave this way?

I’m not suggesting that the lottery/gambling alternative is the answer, but like every other alternative it was never considered. The comments about what other states do is hypocritical. Ivey, and others, made it a point to tell us that our neighboring states had a higher gas tax and we had to keep up with them. I heard that often. In other words, they are doing it this way so we should also. Need I remind the Guv and others that all our surrounding states have lotteries and Mississippi and Florida have more than that. It is also a fact that both Georgia and Tennessee are looking seriously at pari-mutuel wagering for the purpose of bringing horse racing to those two states.

Since that is part of your sales pitch Governor, tell me, why don’t we do what they do?

Maybe it’s because the new bill allows the Governor to control the appointed members of a new special committee, one with a $30-$50 million slush fund. It may be called “grants” in the language of the bill, but the truth is it is a political carrot that the Guv and her henchmen can use for political reasons.

The other argument we have always heard about gambling is that it is tougher on poor people and those with lower incomes. I guess the gas tax doesn’t qualify even though it is a mandatory, confiscatory tax, and it is a per gallon tax not a traditional percentage sales tax. The family struggling to get by pays the exact tax an executive does. Is that fair to poor people?

I just want to remind this bunch to be sure and keep the roads well maintained around our state borders. Alabama citizens need to travel on good roads when going to buy lottery tickets, going to casinos and race tracks in our neighboring states.

Managing Editor