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Alabama Legislators consider putting money back in the pockets of Alabamians

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Alabama lawmakers are hammering out the dollars and cents when it comes to extra money. Legislators are currently in session to decide what to do with a surplus in the state education budget.

There’s nearly $3B to spend. Ideas include permanent cuts to state sales tax on groceries and pay raises for education employees.

Governor Kay Ivey has proposed one-time rebates of $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples.

“A paycheck does not go as far as it did two years ago. That's why I am calling on you to put nearly a billion dollars back into the hands of hardworking, taxpaying Alabamians through one-time rebates,” Ivey told lawmakers last week, according to The Associated Press. Legislative leaders have already discussed rebates, but Ivey's proposal is larger than some of the initial proposals.

Carol Gundlach is a senior policy analyst for the nonprofit Alabama Arise. She said the extra money should be used to help families who need it most.

“We think that if we are going to go the direction of rebates, they ought to be targeted to families for whom they could really make a difference in that family’s ability to put food on the table, pay rent, and keep the lights on,” said Gundlach.

She also said she hopes to see the surplus used to improve school services.

“During the pandemic, there were a lot of schools where every child could eat a meal free, no matter what their family’s income was," said Gundlach. "There were no applications. Kids just got fed at school. We think that’s the model, that’s the way we ought to be doing this.”

She also said she also hopes to see an increase in mental health services and school nurses throughout the state.

Democratic legislative leaders are lobbying to remove the state 4% grocery tax on food or expanding Medicaid to cover working poor families.

Alex Pfenenger is a student intern in the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. He is a senior at the University of Alabama studying Creative Media. He has a passion for creating audio content, which lead him to podcasting and radio work. In his free time, Alex enjoys watching sports, listening to music, and serving at the local church.
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