Alabama Senate advances smaller tax rebate proposal

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Senate on Thursday advanced tax rebates of $105 for single people and $210 for couples as part of an appropriations package that also includes a teacher pay raise.

The proposed rebates are about one-fourth the amount that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey proposed in her State of the State address. Finance and Taxation Education Committee Chairman Arthur Orr said lawmakers are trying to strike a balance between spending, saving and tax rebates amid concerns about an economic downturn. He said the spending plan, instead of giving the larger rebate, would steer $500 million to a state savings account.

“We are concerned about the future of the economy and we have a lot of programs we need to keep funding,” Orr, a Republican from Decatur, said. He said the savings account is needed to ensure the state doesn’t have “to hit that pause button” on efforts to boost math and reading scores, raise teacher pay and expand prekindergarten availability.

Senators voted 30-3 for the rebate plan that now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives. While the proposal passed with widespread support, some senators said it is not enough to make a difference for families.

“If you go into the store to buy groceries with $100, you come out with one bag,” Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, a Democrat from Birmingham, said.

Sen. Bobby Singleton, a Democrat from Greensboro, said the rebates are smaller than what people are expecting and would only go to people who earn enough in taxable income to file a state return. “They want $400. They don’t want $105. They’ll take it because it because it came in the mail, but they will be cussing as they sign the back of that check,” said Singleton, who voted for the bill.

Senators also approved an $8.8 billion education trust fund budget that now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives. The spending plan includes a 2% pay raises for education employees and funding increases.