The Alabama House has rejected Gov. Robert Bentley's proposal to delay private school tax credits for two years.
The House voted 57-10 Monday to reject the governor's proposal. Now the proposal goes to the Senate on the last meeting day of the legislative session.
The new Alabama Accountability Act provides state tax credits of about $3,500 for parents who enroll a child in a private school or non-failing public school rather than a public school rated as failing. Bentley wanted to delay the tax credits until 2015 to allow time for failing schools to improve and for the state to repay money borrowed from a trust fund.
The sponsor of the Accountability Act, Republican Rep. Chad Fincher of Semmes, says the tax credits for school choice need to begin now.
Governor Bentley’s statement is below:
“House members made a mistake by rejecting this executive amendment. My first responsibility is to the people of this state, and I believe the majority of the people support this executive amendment. This executive amendment was fiscally responsible.
“Some have asked about the timing of the amendment. Here’s my response: When I submitted my budget proposals in February, I included $100 million for repayment to the Education Rainy Day Account. But the education budget approved by the Legislature less than two weeks ago reduced that repayment to only $35 million. The state is constitutionally required to pay its debts. My executive amendment would have allowed us to pay back a greater portion of that debt in the coming year. TheLegislature rejecting my amendment is fiscally irresponsible.
“The sooner we repay the rainy day account, the sooner we can invest more resources in improving education. The executive amendment would have also given schools time to improve by using the flexibility provided by the Accountability Act before the tax credits went into effect.”