Connect with us

Economy

Opinion | Alabama’s working class shouldn’t be hit with a gas tax

Josh Moon

Published

on

Why is it always the responsibility of the working class in Alabama?

Everything falls to them.

Not enough money for social programs? Cut government workers.

Not enough money for health care? Cut teachers’ benefits.

Need new prisons? Take from veterans.

And now, need new roads and bridges? Take it from the folks going to work every day.

It’s nonsense, and don’t you buy for a second that this responsibility — to fix Alabama’s aging roads and bridges — falls to the working class, as Gov. Kay Ivey implied in her recent press conference announcing her proposed gas tax.

Advertisement

Enough is enough.

The working class people of Alabama have footed every bill, paid FAR more in taxes than they would in almost every other state and have received by far the smallest return on their investments in this state.

Unless you’re wealthy in Alabama, your schools mostly stink, your healthcare access is limited, your access to high speed internet and public transportation is almost non-existent and your roads and bridges are deplorable.

Advertisement
Advertisement

On top of that, the regulatory agencies that we pay into are God-awful, and their ineptitude has allowed our rivers and lakes to become so polluted we can’t use some of them and our government agencies to become so corrupt we can’t trust them.

And somehow, our governor has the gall to say with a straight face that we all owe more.

Sorry. No.

You know who owes more?

How about some of the companies that we keep handing out decades-long tax breaks to so they’ll relocate here or add a few dozen jobs here — the folks that send their trucks out on our roads and bridges for years without plopping a dime into the till.

Or how about the timber barons of Alabama, with their thousands of acres of land taxed at pennies on the dollar?

Or how about the special taxes for “small family farms” — some of which span thousands of acres and haul in millions of dollars annually — that allow gigantic farms to pay a flat tax rate?

In pretty much every other state, those property tax issues have been worked out in ways that make it more fair for everyone. The land isn’t taxed necessarily at the same rates as residential property, but it is taxed at rates relative to its value and production.

In Georgia, for example, timber land is taxed at roughly three times what it is in Alabama. And somehow, there’s still timber there — a million and a half more acres of it than in Alabama, in fact.

Those other states also tax their farms differently, relying on calculations that assess value related in some degree to the surrounding market values.

Those changes alone could produce an eight-figure tax revenue stream, and that’s before we even start discussing a reasonable increase in property tax rates overall.

There’s also the matter of income tax and sales tax rates in this state, which leave Alabama’s poorest paying about 10 percent of their earnings in taxes while the richest pay less than 5 percent.

If we removed the state sales tax on everything and instead imposed an across-the-board tax on everyone, we could make up hundreds of millions of dollars. And it would save working people thousands each year.

We could also stop pretending that Alabama doesn’t already have legal gambling — at three major casinos, multiple dog tracks and several bingo parlors — and isn’t surrounded by states with lotteries. Implementing an education lottery and commercial casinos would bring in roughly half a billion dollars annually, if not more.

See, I’ve just raised billions of dollars in tax revenue for this state — revenue that could fix all of the roads and bridges, pay to properly fund schools and solve the teacher shortage — and I’ve raised it while lowering the taxes of at least 60 percent of people in this state.

Look, this isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. It isn’t a black or white one. It’s simply an issue of fairness.

And the working class people of Alabama have been treated unfairly for far too long. We’ve paid every bill, absorbed every cut and gotten every shaft.

We’ll happily pay our fair share for roads and bridges. Just as soon as everyone else pays their fair share for everything else.

 

Advertisement

Economy

Likely Republican primary voters reject Poarch Creeks “winning” plan

Bill Britt

Published

on

A survey of likely Republican primary voters obtained by APR shows that a majority do not support giving the Poarch Band of Creek Indians a monopoly over gaming in the state despite the tribe’s promise of a billion dollars.

Over the last several months, PCI has orchestrated a massive media blitz to convince Alabamians that they have a winning plan for the state’s future in exchange for a Tribal-State compact and exclusive rights to Vegas-style casino gaming.

The survey commissioned by the Republican House and Senate caucuses and conducted by CYGNAL, a highly respected Republican polling firm, found that only 34.1 percent of likely Republican primary voters are buying what the tribe is selling. On the contrary, nearly 50 percent of Republicans oppose the plan, with almost 40 percent voicing strong opposition.

Of those surveyed, females are against the plan by nearly 50 percent, with men weighing-in at almost 60 percent unfavorable to PCI’s proposal.

Perhaps most significant is that PCI’s monopoly plan was widely rejected in areas where the tribe already operates casinos. In the Mobile area, nearest Windcreek Atmore, over half of Republicans see a monopoly unfavorably. The same is true in the Montgomery area, where PCI has two gaming facilities.

Not a single big city surveyed in the state held a favorable view of PCI’s plan with Birmingham and Huntsville rejecting the tribal monopoly by almost 50 percent.

Very conservative, somewhat conservative and moderate voters didn’t view the plan as positive.

Advertisement

Ninety-one percent of respondents said they defiantly would be voting in the upcoming Republican primary on March 3.

PCI has lavished money on media outlets throughout the state, garnering favorable coverage, especially on talk radio and internet outlets. The tribe has also spent freely on Republican lawmakers.

Perhaps some good news for PCI is that Republican primary voters believe that state legislators are more likely to represent special interests above the interests of their constituents.

Advertisement
Advertisement

PCI lobbyists continue to push the tribe’s agenda at the State House in defiance of Gov. Kay Ivey’s call for no action on gaming until her study group returns its findings.

The survey found that Ivey enjoys a 76.3 percent favorability rating among likely Republican primary voters.

 

Continue Reading

Economy

ADECA names Elaine J. Fincannon as new deputy director

Staff

Published

on

By

Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Kenneth Boswell announced on Thursday that Elaine J. Fincannon has been appointed as the agency’s deputy director.

Fincannon most recently served as Senior Vice President for Investor Relations for the Business Council of Alabama. She worked with BCA for over 25 years as part of its senior team, working with a diverse range of business leaders and CEOs of Alabama’s largest employers. During that time, she also served as BCA’s liaison to Alabama’s trade associations and to the more than 100 chambers of commerce throughout the state. She also served on the President’s Committee and Corporate Partners Committee for the Alabama Automotive Manufacturer’s Association and was a part of the Alabama Aerospace Industry Association’s membership committee.

“Elaine Fincannon’s extensive knowledge and experience with the public and private sector in our state made her an ideal choice to be ADECA’s new deputy director, and I am pleased that she has decided to bring those talents to the agency,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “Elaine is mission-focused, forward-thinking and detailed-oriented, which are the exact skills needed to serve as deputy director of ADECA. She and I will work closely together to continue supporting Gov. Ivey’s mission of improving the lives of all Alabamians.”

Fincannon is an active member of the community, serving as a member of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, the Junior League of Montgomery, the Montgomery Humane Society, Auburn University Montgomery Alumni Association and other volunteer efforts. She also served as a member of the American Society of Association Executives and was an officer of the Association of State Chamber Professionals. She has a bachelor’s degree of science from AUM and was honored with a Distinguished Chamber Professional Award in 2019 by the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.

Fincannon joins ADECA with a focus on working with Boswell to meet the agency’s mission to strengthen and support local communities.

“It is an honor to join ADECA during this time, and I am grateful to Director Boswell and Gov. Ivey for this appointment,” Fincannon said. “I plan to work diligently to serve the people of Alabama to the absolute best of my ability.”

 

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Economy

Alabama Workforce Council delivers annual report touting improved career pathways

Staff

Published

on

By

The Alabama Workforce Council (AWC) recently delivered its Annual Report to Gov. Kay Ivey and members of the legislature. The report highlights the many and varied workforce successes from 2019. It also outlines policy recommendations to further solidify Alabama as a leader in workforce development and push the state closer to Ivey’s goal of adding 500,000 credentialed workers to the state’s workforce by 2025.

Gov. Ivey acknowledged the recent progress stating, “the continued efforts of the AWC and the various state agency partners in transforming our workforce are substantial. Significant work has been accomplished to ensure all Alabamians have a strong start and strong finish. We will continue to bolster our state’s economy through dynamic workforce development solutions to help us reach our ambitious goal.”

The AWC, formed in 2015, was created as an employer-led, statewide effort to understand the structure, function, organization and perception of the Alabama workforce system. The goal of the AWC is to facilitate collaboration between government and industry to help Alabama develop a sustainable workforce that is competitive on a global scale. 

“This report details the tremendous efforts of the dedicated AWC members and their partners who have greatly contributed to the progress of building a highly-skilled workforce.” noted Tim McCartney, Chairman of the AWC. “To meet ever-growing job needs of an expanding economy, we have put forth recommendations to bring working-age Alabamians sitting on the sidelines back into the workforce to address our low workforce participation rate.”

Included among the many highlights from the report are:

  • Created the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship to support apprenticeships and work-based learning statewide.
  • Established the Alabama Committee on Credentialing & Career Pathways (ACCCP) to identify credentials of value that align with in-demand career pathways across Alabama.
  • Furthered foundational work toward cross-agency outcome sharing through the Alabama Terminal on Linking and Analyzing Statistics (ATLAS).
  • Commissioned statewide surveys to better understand the characteristics, and potential barriers, of the priority population groups (during record-low unemployment) identified as likely to enter or re-enter the state’s workforce. 
  • Provided technical assistance, support staff and grant writing services to a cohort of over 30 nonprofits from across the state enabling them to expand services and directly connect more Alabamians to training and economic opportunity. Services helped cohort members secure over $6.4 million in grant money through various out-of-state grant programs.
  • Identified and evaluated 17 population segments of potential workers and determined the likelihood of adding members of those respective population segments into the workforce. Within this process, issues affecting the state’s labor participation rate were also detailed. 

Vice-Chair of the AWC Sandra Koblas of Austal USA commented, “the energy around workforce development in Alabama right now is incredibly exciting. We are working together with businesses, nonprofits and agency partners to reduce barriers, increase opportunities and grow the state’s overall economy.”

The full report can be viewed here.

Advertisement

To learn more about the Alabama Workforce Council please visit: www.alabamaworks.com/alabama-workforce-council

 

 

Advertisement
Advertisement

Continue Reading

Economy

Shelby announces $733,150 ARC POWER Grant for Opportunity Alabama

Staff

Published

on

By

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Wednesday announced that Opportunity Alabama, Inc., a nonprofit initiative in Birmingham, Alabama, is the recipient of a $733,150 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) POWER grant.  This grant will fund the Creating Opportunity for Alabama (COAL) Initiative.

“ARC’s decision to award this funding to Opportunity Alabama will help significantly boost private investment and business development throughout our state’s coal-impacted communities,” said Senator Shelby.  “I am proud this nonprofit initiative is working to help our local communities understand and capitalize on Opportunity Zones.  These federal funds will facilitate an improved quality of life in Appalachian Alabama, creating hundreds of jobs and dozens of new businesses.”

“Opportunity Zones, and the private investment they incentivize, are helping uplift communities throughout the Appalachian Region,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas.  “Opportunity Alabama is working to ensure communities understand and are able to capitalize on this program to improve Appalachian Alabama, and this POWER investment will have a big impact on that mission.”

 The project will create an investment funding and business development ecosystem targeted to the federally designated Opportunity Zones in 36 coal-impacted counties in Alabama.  As a result of the ARC grant, Opportunity Alabama will work with a team of local, state, and national partners in a three-phased approach.  The first phase will work on building a local capacity to effectively prepare for and attract Opportunity Zone investments, focusing particularly on rural communities.  The second phase will create a pipeline of investment opportunities to attract substantial private investment by facilitating demand studies, environmental assessments, and construction cost estimates.  The third and final phase will focus on developing and implementing an impact-investment data collection and analysis process to make it easier for investors to deploy their capital.

This project will yield 250 new jobs, create 25 new businesses, and leverage $100 million in private investment.  In addition to the federal grant provided for the project, Alabama Power and the Alabama Power Foundation are expected to provide private financial support.

Opportunity Alabama is a nonprofit initiative dedicated to connecting investors with investable assets in Alabama’s Opportunity Zones.

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement

The V Podcast

Facebook

Trending

.