Gov. Bentley wants 2-year delay on Ala. Accountability Act tax c - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Gov. Bentley wants 2-year delay on Ala. Accountability Act tax credits

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley wants the Legislature to delay Alabama's private school tax credits for two years.

Bentley told chamber of commerce leaders Wednesday that a delay will give schools time to try to get off the failing list and will help the state repay a $423 million debt before the tax credits begin.

Bentley announced an upcoming executive amendment that he says will help public schools improve while also allowing the state to make greater progress in repaying the Education Rainy Day Fund.

Governor Bentley outlined two main reasons for providing the executive amendment:

  • Greater Fiscal Responsibility:  The Education Trust Fund owes the Education Rainy Day Fund $423 million by the end of fiscal year 2015.  The state needs to pay its debts.  Delaying implementation of the tax credits and scholarships until the 2015-2016 academic year will allow more resources to be focused on Rainy Day Fund repayment.

  • Time to Improve:  The executive amendment will preserve the flexibility provided by the Alabama Accountability Act.  Public schools asked for, and deserve, that flexibility so they can develop unique and innovative plans for improvement.  By delaying the tax credit and scholarship provisions for two years, schools will have time to put their improvement plans into place and provide a better education.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate leader Del Marsh says they will discuss Bentley's proposal with their members. "It is premature to comment on an amendment I have not yet seen," Hubbard said. "I look forward to reviewing the contents of the Governor's executive amendment and discussing any changes with our members before it comes to the floor next week."

Teacher lobbyist Henry Mabry says the tax credits were a horrible mistake and they won't be any better in two years. "The Governor is correct in his judgment that the voucher system created under the so-called Alabama Accountability Act, harms every public school in the state," Mabry said. "But the Governor's two-year moratorium begs the question, how can a policy that is wrong today be right in two years?  Rather than delay a policy he concedes is wrong until after the next election, why does he not use his power to end this insanity?"      

"Today's announcement by Governor Bentley brings a welcomed opportunity for our schools identified as Priority Schools," said State School Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice. "Those schools will be able to utilize the initial statutory and budgetary flexibility of HB84, along with programmatic flexibility currently in place from the State Board of Education, to create innovative and creative programs for their students.  

Dr. Bice adds, "This is in total alignment with Plan 2020 and our new accountability plan, which will allow us to strategically identify and support those schools in the greatest need of improvement and align federal, state and local resources to address those needs. "

The Legislature passed a law in February that provides tax credits for parents who move their children from failing public schools to private schools or non-failing public schools.

Bentley's delay will be up for a vote on Monday. The governor chose to cancel an economic development event appearance set for Monday so he could be at the Statehouse.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. WSFA 12 News contributed to this report.)

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