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February 27, 2004   Email to Friend 

BATC OPPOSES TAX TALK BEFORE SPENDING REFORM
WORK CONTINUES TO STOP SPENDING BILLS

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
February 27, 2004

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Representatives of the Business Associations' Tax Coalition met this week with a key group of Senators to urge them to put spending cuts before plans to increase taxes.

BATC is a coalition comprised of 31 trade and professional associations, including the Alabama Farmers Federation, that represent virtually every segment of Alabama's business community. Our member associations work on behalf of businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of hardworking, tax paying Alabamians in industries including construction, retail, banking, engineers, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, forestry, insurance, real estate and small businesses of every description.

Plans were made to give Senators a daily briefing on key bills up for consideration each day. The Senate delegation expressed the importance of the business owners contacting their Senate and House members with the spending reform message.

The bill of the most concern to BATC is House Bill 44. This bill was scheduled to be up for consideration this week in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee. The committee suspended its consideration of HB 44 after a commitment by Senate Pro Tem Lowell Baron to not consider "accountability" legislation while a bi-partisan delegation of House and Senate members deliberate over a compromise between spending cuts and tax hikes. BATC members expect at least a one week delay before HB 44 is brought back before the Senate committee.

HB44 is designed to block attempts to cut skyrocketing costs in the healthcare plans of government workers. Spending requests for the health insurance programs have topped ONE BILLION dollars for 2005. The entire General Fund budget that provides all non-education services is only 1.3 billion dollars. These healthcare costs are on track to bankrupt our state budgets. State workers pay nothing in premiums for individual coverage. Teachers pay two dollars per month for individual coverage. HB 44 would tie any increase in premiums for government employees to a mandated pay raise. Alabama taxpayers cannot afford a pay raise for government workers that would keep up with the ever increasing rising government worker healthcare program. This bill would eat up any future growth in the state budgets leaving no money for shoring up essential programs like Medicaid, more State Troopers or textbooks for school children. The two major state employee unions are fighting changes in the healthcare programs in the legislature.

A LINE IN THE SAND

BATC has also learned of plans that the negotiating committee is considering up to 900 million dollars in tax increases. The BATC position is clear. NO NEW TAXES SHOULD BE CONSIDERED UNTIL SPENDING REFORM IS IN PLACE.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

• Call your Senator on Tuesday and tell him to vote NO on HB 44. The Senate switchboard number is 1-334-242-7800. You can find your Senator on the web at this address: http://www.legislature.state.al.us/senate/senate.html.
• When you call, make it clear that SPENDING REFORM must take place before any discussion of TAX INCREASES.
• Inform your employees or coworkers that they will soon be asked to pay more in taxes to pay for the healthcare costs for government workers.
• Show them how much you and they pay for their healthcare plans.
• Compare that to the premiums for state employees.
• Encourage your employees or coworkers to contact their Legislator in the House or Senate.
• The switchboard number for the House is 1-334-242-7600. The web address for the House is: http://www.legislature.state.al.us/house/house.html.




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