MONTGOMERY, ALA. — Just two months ago, I stood here in Montgomery in front of the capitol to launch our campaign for governor.
I said then I was running for governor because our nation is at a tipping point. We will either go the way of Marxism where government controls everything under a yoke of fear and intimidation, or we will turn back to one nation under God where freedom rings.
Our nation is at a tipping point. Unfortunately, the working people of Alabama are also at a breaking point.
We are experiencing the largest inflation spike in more than 40 years... caused by a broken supply chain, too much dependency on Chinese manufacturing, and a worker shortage caused by unprecedented federal handouts that will be paid for by future generations.
The skyrocketing federal debt combined with an all-out war by liberals on American and Alabama energy producers has made it worse.
The average Alabama family is feeling the pain of soaring prices for gas, groceries, and basic goods and services. 
For many families, these higher prices aren’t just affecting their decision about whether to go on vacation or buy a new car or a new home.
It is also affecting whether they can fill up their car with gas or make their house payment or sign their kids up for baseball.
The people of Alabama are fed up.
While we can blame Democrats for bad policy coming out of Washington, it is our Republican governor and those who follow her in the legislature who are failing to lead here in Alabama.
Let me explain what I mean by that. This year, we are sitting on about a 1.5 Billion Dollar surplus in our state government budget. 
1.5 Billion Dollars.
Think about that.
If we consider the carryover from the year before, it is actually about 1.8 Billion Dollars. You know what our Republican governor and leadership in the legislature are about to do with it? Spend it.
Some of the proposed line items are not what we need when people are hurting otherwise. 
- $7 Million for a geological survey for a new building.
- $5.25 Million to the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium, which is to help pay for, among other things, cafeteria serving line modernizations.
- $3 Million for another new building.
- $3 Million to the Alabama Space Science Exhibit.
- $700,000 to the Department of Public Health for a new mobile facility for hearing screening for the Lions Club.
- $100,000 to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Again, it may not necessarily be that these entities in themselves are bad or that these are not good funding ideas, but when our people are hurting so badly, we need to use discretion with our taxpayer resources.
If that’s not all, during these tough times for our working families, Alabama’s state legislators have made sure that they will get their 4% raise.
Just over $2,000 per legislator added to their $51,000 annual salary for their part-time job, paid for courtesy of the taxpayers.  And to put that in context, Florida legislators make less than $30,000 per year.
So for this big fat $51,000 part-time salary for our legislators, you’d think they would spend less time pushing gambling, marijuana, and gas taxes; and more time tackling our failing school systems and economy.
Alabama’s state government doesn’t have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. But spending problems are not possible without a taxing problem.
Every year, almost every one of Alabama’s homeowners get stuck with higher property taxes – just because property values go up. Have there been any conversations about property tax relief? Not one.
Have there been any conversations about an income tax rebate? Not one.
And of course, we are all painfully aware that every time that we buy a tank of gas, we are being hit with Governor Ivey’s forever-increasing gas tax.
With this surplus and in these difficult economic times, it is unconscionable for our leaders not to consider serious tax cuts. But here’s the good news. With the legislature still in session, Governor Ivey still has time.
Here’s what I would propose doing with the $1.5 Billion surplus in this year’s budget.
- First, I would suspend Governor Ivey’s forever increasing gas tax and then repeal it. Some would argue that paying 10 cents more per gallon of gas just isn’t that big of a deal. But the 55% increase of the gas tax is the largest Alabama tax increase in modern times. Repealing it could inject more than $300 Million back into our economy by reducing the amount of money that our small businesses and working families have to pay for fuel. 
- Second, I would immediately move to repeal the state’s grocery tax. With the prices of food gone crazy, this is yet another way that we can alleviate the financial pain for families fighting to make ends meet and put another $500 Million back into our economy. 
- Third, there’s a bill floating around in the Senate to ease the burden of the Business Privilege Tax. It sounds like a real privilege to pay this tax – almost like we should feel lucky to do so. We don’t need to ease it. We should end it entirely. That would ensure about $186 Million in tax relief for our job creators and eliminate the wasted time associated with a mountain of paperwork and red tape.
- Finally, we should cut in half and eliminate many of the occupational license taxes and fees that make it harder for small businessmen and women and workers from competing in the workplace. According to one report, Alabama licenses over 150 occupations and charges them over $100 Million every year just to be in business. 
It would seem to make sense that some of these occupations don’t need government
oversight or any kind of licensing at all. Some examples are as follows:
- Auctioneers - $200
- Barbers - $75 plus 2,000 apprenticeship hours
- Cosmetologists - $100 plus 3,000 apprenticeship hours
- Natural Hair Stylist - $100 plus 420 apprenticeship hours
- Security Guard - $25
- Tree Surgeon - $175
Now, immediately, after I get done with this press conference, the lovers of big government are going to begin asking how I plan to pay for these millions of dollars in tax breaks.
Let’s consider how I would do that.
I would use the full $1.5 Billion surplus without the carryover as a start to pay for these moves in just this year.
Then in looking at the projected revenue growth over the next two fiscal years, if we simply held spending flat, we could absorb the permanent elimination on the grocery taxes and the business privilege taxes.
As governor, I would direct all agencies to implement zero-based budgeting, which means that each agency would have to justify every penny they are spending, and I would work with the legislature to sweat out savings across the board.
Furthermore, I would appoint a citizens review board reporting directly to the governor to review every contract and vendor agreement for the state of Alabama.
While I hope that Governor Ivey and the legislature pay attention to my recommendations. My guess is that they won’t.
This state needs new leadership. Every time I turn around, I see another announcement about Governor Ivey handing out more money to one of her pet projects like she is Mrs. Claus at Christmas.
That is not her money.
It is the people’s money generated by the sweat of their brow.
And even if it were her money, government does not grow an economy when it hands out chunks of cash.
If that were the case, the federal welfare system would be the biggest success of all time.
As governor, my job plan will not be to hand out the people’s money.
My plan will be to cut taxes, eliminate red tape, and create world-class schools for every child - whether they choose to go to college or seek technical training.
When I am governor, I will lead a serious conversation about how to reduce our overall tax burden, including income and property taxes. Until then, the people of Alabama deserve a break.
Governor Ivey, I urge you to take action while the legislature is still in session. You are sitting on over a $1.5 Billion Dollar surplus.
Right now, the only thing our working families of Alabama are getting for it is frivolous spending, higher gas taxes, and raises for legislators they don’t deserve.
For the rest of us, it is time to fight back.