Budget Reform Task Force to Tackle Earmarks, Credits & Tax Relief

By Greg Reed & Del Marsh

 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today, the Alabama State Senate approved the creation of a task force to identify bold, long-term reforms of Alabama’s state budgets. Currently, over 90% of Alabama’s tax dollars are earmarked for specific government programs or services, the highest percentage of earmarked dollars of any state. Therefore, the state Legislature has virtually no flexibility to efficiently allocate taxpayer dollars, especially in times of budget austerity.

“Since 2010, we have cut over $1 billion annually in state government spending,” Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) said. “The reality is, however, that further budget reform is needed to put our state on a sound fiscal footing for the coming years and position Alabama for strong economic growth, and I am committed to achieving those goals without raising taxes.”

The Joint Legislative Task Force on Budget Reform, started by House of Representatives Speaker Mac McCutcheon and authorized by the Senate, will hold its first meeting in September and will evaluate the following five ideas:

  • Biennial budgeting cycles for both the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund budgets.
  • Plans to un-earmark tax revenue, to increase legislative oversight of state departments and give flexibility to policymakers.
  • Methods for requiring state entities to undergo greater performance and program reviews.
  • Proposals to carefully evaluate the efficiency of all existing state tax credits, deductions, and exemptions. (Currently, more than $4.5 billion in tax revenue is given out via tax credits, deductions, and exemptions, and many of these are decades old).
  • Identify areas where tax relief can be provided to Alabama’s families, without significantly impacting state budgets.

“Senate Republicans remain committed to making government work more efficiently,” Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) remarked. “This task force is another example of our effort to bring fundamental reform to Alabama’s budgeting system.”

The task force is charged with reporting its findings and recommendations to the Legislature by the fifth legislative day of the 2017 Regular Session.

# # #