By Sarrah Peters
On Friday, April 24, Governor Robert Bentley visited Gadsden.
Bentley’s first stop was the Gadsden/Etowah Chamber, where he addressed local politicians and business leaders.
The main topic of conversation was the tax plan that Bentley has proposed to fix the hole in the General Fund. Bentley said that this tax plan is a necessity to avoid major cuts to state departments and services that cannot afford another hit to funds.
“It is a crisis. We need to treat it like a crises,” emphasized Bentley.
According to Bentley, if the state cannot raise the necessary revenue, services that are provided to veterans, seniors and children will be cut. Law enforcement and jails could also be sent into a tailspin, with the Gadsden State Trooper office closing, inmates will be moved into even more overcrowded systems and the already overlogged court systems will receive cuts.
Bentley also said that the economic problems that Alabama is facing today have been building for years. He hopes the tax plan he is proposing will fix the revenue problem forever, instead of being a short-term solution.
The “fair taxes” that Bentley has proposed include a state income tax for corporations that do not currently pay state taxes, a car tax that is still lower than surrounding states and a cigarette tax.
Bentley thanked local politicians their support, including State Representatives Craig Ford, Becky Nordgren and Mack Butler.
During a question and answer session, Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton told Bentley, “I think the citizens of Etowah County support your package. I support your package. This is a solution that needs to take place.
On Friday afternoon, Bentley and Ford rode down I-759 and Meighan Boulevard to see the traffic problem himself.
“I was really excited that the governor came to see this,” said Ford. “ I want to thank him for taking the time to come down.”
Ford said that he thinks Bentley’s eyes were “really opened up” to the traffic and economical development problems that face Gadsden.
Bentley has made a commitment to get the highway director to ride the route next.
“We still have a lot of work to do to secure funding,” said Ford. “But this is a step in the right direction.”