Alabama Governor Backs Tax Increases for $700 Million Shortfall

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley proposed raising taxes to close a $700 million shortfall, setting up a clash with a legislature dominated by fellow Republicans.

Bentley, who was re-elected in November, on Friday said the $541 million of revenue increases are needed to eliminate the budget deficit in year beginning July 1. His plan includes higher taxes on cigarettes, car sales and individual and corporate income, among with some budget cuts.

“I am a conservative,” Bentley told reporters at the Montgomery statehouse. “There is nothing more conservative than getting our fiscal house in order.”

Alabama is among states facing deficits even as the nation’s economic expansion strengthens. Bentley’s decision to raise taxes instead of rely on spending cuts alone places him among more than half a dozen Republican governors bucking their party. They’re seeking money to close shortfalls or boost spending for transportation, schools and other programs.

Bentley previously said that he would seek to raise taxes to repair a budget held together for years by loans and other temporary fixes. That’s riled many Republicans in the legislature, who have vowed to fight.

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