MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Education Association has joined a lawsuit charging that Alabama's state legislature illegally passed three laws during the 2011 Regular Session relating to economic development.
Dr. Paul Hubbert, the Executive Secretary of the state's teacher's union, alleges that the three bills in question had to do with generating revenue, which means they should have originated in the House of Representatives instead of the Senate.
The three bills were initially heralded as job growth and economic development measures. One was designed to drive more manufacturing to Alabama in the form of tax vouchers up to $50 million dollars. One of the measures was a homeowners tax credit for anyone to apply for which would have offered an incentive to retrofit a home in the event of a natural disaster. The final bill has to do with upkeep for residential subdivisions.
A major part of the AEA's suit argues that the three would take money directly away from the state's Education Trust Fund.
"The education trust fund receives the income tax" Dr. Hubbert with the AEA said. "Anything that takes money out of the income tax revenue flow such as these three bills do is a detriment to education."
Republicans who guided the bills through the legislature argue the AEA is simply trying to destroy jobs and is against anything that brings in new industry.
Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Hubbard (R – Auburn) said "The AEA obviously doesn't understand the big picture. They don't understand that the government doesn't create anything, the private sector creates it and the way to make the pie bigger and the way to get more money for education is to have more jobs and to have a business friendly environment."
He went on to say that he believed the lawsuit was a desperate attempt by the AEA to save face. Rep. Hubbard argued that since the AEA's legislative influence has decreased in the past year, it is doing anything it can to remain relevant.
Hubbert with the AEA contends that job creation is important, but not at the expense of teachers and students. He said the lost income tax revenue to tax breaks for big business is not worth what classrooms will lose.
"When teachers don't have supplies with which to work in the classroom, when there are no textbooks available, we haven't had new ones in years" Hubbert said. "We can't afford to give this money up."
The top House member Hubbard disagreed with that contention. He argued that creating jobs in Alabama would in fact lead to more revenue.
"It makes absolutely no sense. If you don't have anything coming in right now and then you create something to come in then you're making the pie bigger" Hubbard said. "You're not taking anything out because if you do trigger this bill and use the incentives that are available, you're making the pie bigger. You're creating new jobs."
A Montgomery Circuit Court Judge will have the option to either uphold the laws, saying lawmakers passed them properly, or he could rule them unconstitutional and throw them out.