The million dollar question for Gov. Robert Bentley

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Like a riddle without an answer, a question has bugged me for months: When Gov. Robert Bentley says that members of the Legislature agree with him on tax increases, who exactly is he talking about?

Prior to surprising everyone with his ill-fated decision to call a special session on the budget when both House or Ssenate leadership said they weren’t ready, the Governor said he had met with a number of legislators and felt they were ready to come back.

In an interview shortly after the special session ended, Bentley was quoted as saying, “And they said if you’ll get out in front, we’ll be right there behind you. And they were. About a mile and a half back.”

Who is the “they” he keeps talking about and why aren’t they coming forward?

In July, Alabama Today asked the governor’s communications director, “Do you have a list of members the Governor has met with even if it’s not comprehensive?” The reply, “No. The Governor has met with individual legislators and legislative leadership on budget issues. I do not have a specific number.”

Yesterday, in an interview with WSFA Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said, “We have never had more than 11 senators in a single sitting agree to a tax measure.” He went on to note that was on the cigarette tax. A measure that failed in the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee surprising many.

Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard told the AP, “when that collapsed, everything collapsed.”

“We’ve always been up front that we want to get this done,” Marsh said to the WSFA, “but we ask at this time that taxes be taken off the table.”

Alabama Today is continuing to reach out to individual members to see if there’s a secret caucus of tax loving republicans out there that continues to give the Governor the idea that he will get his tax increases and we will let you know if we find one. In the meantime if you know of a member who will go on the record supporting all of the governors plans feel free to email us.

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