Connect with us

Guest Columnists

A tax cut for Christmas

Bradley Byrne

Published

on

Bradley Byrne

By Congressman Bradley Byrne

This Christmas, the American people received a gift that isn’t found underneath the tree but will be found in your pocketbook and paychecks over the coming years. I’m talking about passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act represents the first major overhaul of our nation’s tax code since 1986. The ultimate goal is to grow the American economy and put more money in your pockets. I firmly believe the money is better off in the hands of the American people instead of in the coffers of a bloated federal government.

Advertisement

Consider this: the average family in Southwest Alabama will see their tax bill decrease by $2,187 a year. That’s extra money on a car payment. That’s additional savings for a child’s college. That’s money to help pay for home repairs. That’s real money.

As part of our bill, we nearly double the standard deduction from $6,500 and $13,000 under current law to $12,000 and $24,000 for individuals and married couples, respectively. Over 70 percent of tax filers in Southwest Alabama already take the standard deduction, so this will be a major boost for those people. Thousands more will pay less and won’t have to go through the burden of itemization.

For families, the bill expands the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child. With this change, families will have more money to help with the many expenses related to raising a child. We also preserve the adoption tax credit to encourage and support those who open their homes to an adopted child.

In an important step to restore individual choice and freedom, the bill ends the tax penalty created under Obamacare for individuals who choose not to have health insurance. The federal government should not force someone to buy a private product or fine someone who finds their health care options too expensive.

The bill also includes serious and substantial reforms to make the American economy boom again. For example, our current corporate tax rate of 35 percent is the highest in the industrialized world. This keeps businesses from expanding in America and has caused a number of major companies to leave our country altogether.

Well, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowers the corporate tax rate to 21 percent to help make us more competitive on the world stage. We are already seeing the benefits of this change with companies like AT&T, Comcast, Wells Fargo, and Boeing announcing that they will increase investment in our country, increase pay for their employees, and give out bonuses.

Small businesses also win big under this tax plan with lower taxes and a fairer tax structure that does not punish “pass-through” businesses. The bill offers a first-ever 20 percent tax deduction that applies to the first $315,000 of joint small business income.

In addition to the major tax reforms, the bill also includes a provision important to the Gulf Coast that I championed. The provision would increase the money Gulf states are able to receive through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which means more money will be headed to our local coastal communities.

There are many other positive provisions included in the tax plan, so I encourage everyone to visit FairAndSimple.gop to learn more.

At the end of the day, people right here in Southwest Alabama will be better off under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act thanks to bigger paychecks, a stronger economy, and more money in their pockets. That’s a Christmas gift we can all get excited about!

Continue Reading

Guest Columnists

Opinion | Let’s get our facts straight on the bridge

Tony Kennon and Robert Craft

Published

on

It’s always amazing how some people can misinterpret the facts. A case in point is the recent controversy over the proposed coastal bridge in Baldwin County. It’s hard for us to comprehend the opposition because we live here.

Opponents have deemed it a “bridge to nowhere,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth, because the Gulf Coast is Alabama’s largest economic engine. There isn’t a place in Alabama that contributes more tourism revenue than the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Check our state budgets for the revenue we contribute. Check the studies performed to assess our economic impact to the state. This new bridge is headed to the future of our state.

The fact is, we are at capacity in our transportation system with the exception of a toll-paying option for a privately-owned, unregulated bridge many motorists aren’t willing to choose. Drivers will approach that toll bridge, but then cut across to Highway 59. That was fine when we had 10,000 to 15,000 visitors a day, but now those numbers are increasing at an overwhelming rate. Today, traffic is backing up through Foley toward Summerdale putting traffic at a standstill during peak seasons.

Advertisement

This can have a damaging impact on state revenue because, not only does congested traffic make our visitors less likely to return, but we can’t grow our capacity when the transportation infrastructure won’t handle the load. Their “bridge to nowhere” is our bridge to the future.

Those few who oppose it say there haven’t been enough studies and that it hasn’t been proven to be in the public interest. We would invite anyone with any concern to take a ride to our beaches. They are welcome to study the parking lot called Highway 59. Approaching the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, they will witness the traffic bottleneck caused by a bridge which is woefully over capacity.

Building a bridge wasn’t our first option. There was an attempt to purchase the existing toll bridge. But, why would we want to pay more for a bridge than we could build a new one ourselves?

And speaking of the bridge owners, let’s get down to who’s really opposing this project. Outside of a handful of local residents, the real opposition comes from the toll bridge company. After previous liquidation and bond actions, their investors want to get their money back. They have launched an ambitious, but misleading, campaign to stop the project so they can sell their bridge for hundreds of millions in taxpayer money.

These bridge owners want to attack this project as not being in the public interest. Let’s be honest with ourselves, who really thinks the bridge owners have the public interest at heart? Furthermore, when the public drives on Highway 59 or the proposed new coastal bridge, that is without a doubt a public interest.

As elected mayors, we’ve both served our communities for over a decade. And as such, we know what is in the public interest. There is no need for additional studies. We’ve listened to the travelers and our residents who must navigate our congested roads. We realize there is a desperate need for infrastructure expansion to move the growing traffic to and from the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Doing so will improve the daily lives of our local citizens and entice our guests to return for years to come. And, it will create more and more revenue for the State of Alabama.

It’s time to put the wishes of the driving public first. And, it’s time to look after the interests and needs of those who live on the Gulf Coast and the millions who visit here every year.

 

Continue Reading

Guest Columnists

Opinion | Education is key to Alabama’s future

Rusty Glover

Published

on

As a former high school educator my time in the classroom gave me many valuable life lessons. Not a single year passed where I did not see the effects that cuts had on our students, their achievements, and even their parents.

While we are beginning to see an economic renaissance nationally, the figures from the latest hard data in 2016 show just how slow the recovery was for many people. In my own area of Southwest Alabama, the most recent figures show an underemployment rate of 23.7% – nearly 1 in 4 people are looking for better jobs and are willing to commute longer distances for those jobs.

Yet, of the five fastest growing occupations in the same area – four of the occupations can either be taught or outright require a community or technical college training.

Advertisement

Education will be part of the next legislative session. In a time when it seems everything is in flux – education and its impact on our communities remains a constant.

In a 2017 article, it was reported that of 67 counties – 18 had either local school systems or colleges as the county’s largest employer. It should be noted, that of the top eight counties for population – the largest employer in six of them are education institutions or school systems.

However, what is our plan? I never taught without planning my own lessons. How then can we effectively seize our future without a plan?

What I propose is to get back to the basics. Greater localized control, while working with every school system in the state to reduce classroom sizes can help our children quickly.

For those in high schools, I pledge to work and develop more streamlined pathways to community and technical college training. Increasing access to broadband at the same time will allow students across the state to take advantage of our higher education resources in a quick, thorough, and efficient fashion.

This can deliver to Alabama both the higher personal incomes and long term tax base our state needs – without raising personal taxes.

As your Lieutenant Governor, I would bring the perspective of a teacher – one who understands what cuts to education looks like at the dinner table and who understands the importance of education to our local communities.

As a native of Mobile, Glover has served in the Alabama Legislature for 16 years as a member of Alabama House of Representatives (2002-2006) and Senate (2006-present). Glover is a graduate of B.C. Rain High School, Faulkner State Community College and the University of South Alabama. He retired after 25 years of teaching from Mary G. Montgomery High School in Semmes, where he lives with his wife, Connie. Together they have two daughters, Kellie and Katie; a son-in-law, John McGraw; and a new grandson, Beau Monroe McGraw. He is a member of Wilmer Baptist Church in Wilmer, AL. Visit rustyglover.com to learn more. 

Continue Reading

Guest Columnists

Opinion | Strengthening our hand with Iran

Martha Roby

Published

on

President Trump recently announced he will withdraw the United States from the Iran Nuclear Agreement. From the very beginning, I said this was a flawed, weak deal that serves the interests of bad actors in Iran at the expense of our own. I support the Trump Administration’s efforts to ensure that we truly end Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

After all, wasn’t that the point of this agreement in the first place? Under the deal, the Iranian regime was to dismantle their nuclear weapons program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Needless to say, this didn’t work out, and that’s largely because the Obama Administration failed to uphold the basic tenets they laid out for this agreement from the start.

For example, when the previous Administration was negotiating this agreement more than three years ago, they originally said the United States would perform inspections on suspected Iranian nuclear facilities that could occur anywhere, at any time, to ensure that this rogue regime wouldn’t be able to quietly continue their efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. In reality, the Iranians ended up having up to 24 days’ notice in many cases before inspections were allowed to occur. Even then, Americans were prohibited from unilaterally performing them. This is just one example of the many ways the Iran deal fell far short of accomplishing what the Obama Administration promised Congress and the American people.

Advertisement

Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and that hasn’t changed over the last three years. While actively supporting terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, the nation has been part of horrific terrorism in Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon. The regime has also been developing long-range ballistic missiles. Their ballistic missiles program threatens Israel, our allies in the region, and even U.S. forces.

It is no secret that Iran has not stopped its mission to obtain a nuclear weapon, and Israeli intelligence actually proved Iran deceived negotiators from the outset by covering up their nuclear weapons program prior to signing the agreement in 2015. So now, the regime has the best of both worlds: relief from economic sanctions and the freedom to continue their nuclear weapons program without consequence.

For starters, I believe it is imperative that we reinstate the economic sanctions against Iran that were in place prior to the Obama-era nuclear agreement. In the House, I have supported policies like this that strengthen our hand towards Iran, including the Iran Sanctions Extension Act, which Congress passed in 2016 to reauthorize for ten years the economic penalties used by the United States to deter Iran from furthering developing ballistic missiles and supporting terrorism.

Clearly, there is great room for improvement in our dealings with this rogue nation. As I have said many times before, the Obama Administration’s behavior towards Iran was truly baffling, and I am glad that we have now reversed course. I am hopeful that the Trump Administration can strengthen our hand with Iran after eight years of it being severely weakened. At the end of the day, the bottom line is that Iran’s nuclear weapons program, support for terrorist organizations, and development of ballistic missiles pose a direct threat to the United States and our allies. We must take this very seriously throughout future negotiations with this regime. To do otherwise compromises our own national security.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

 

Continue Reading

Authors

Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending

A tax cut for Christmas

by Bradley Byrne Read Time: 3 min
0