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Economy

Alabama state and local governments collect less taxes than any other state

Jessa Reid Bolling

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Alabama state and local governments collect less in taxes per resident than any other state in the U.S., according to the latest figures available from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

In 2017, rising revenue in Alabama, tax cuts in other states, and a variety of other factors led to some narrowing of the gap between Alabama and its sister states. However, Alabama state and local governments still collected less in taxes than state and local governments in any other state on a per capita basis. 

That’s been true since the early 1990s and partially explains why Alabama struggles to provide the same level of public services as other states.

The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), a nonpartisan research group based at Samford University, released their 2019 analysis of Alabama’s tax system and how it compares with tax systems in other states, based on the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Alabama state and local governments collected $3,370 per resident through property, income, and an array of other taxes, an increase from $3,203 in 2016, showing a gain of $166 per capita. 

Alabama’s per capita tax collections increased in all major areas. Alabama’s gain in per capita tax collections was the third highest increase among the 10 Southeastern states, falling behind Louisiana and Florida.

Still, Alabama ranked last in the U.S. and last among Southeastern states in state and local tax collections per resident. Among Southeastern states, the average per capita rate was $3,755, $385 per resident higher than Alabama. The median value for U.S. states was $4,682 per capita, $1,312 more per resident than Alabama. 

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These figures are derived from PARCA’s analysis of an annual survey by the U.S. Census Bureau of state and local governments across the country. The report makes it possible to compare the revenue and expenditures of state and local governments across the 50 states.

Alabama’s increase of $166 per capita over 2016 was above the average gain across the U.S. In 2017, only two states, Wyoming and Arizona, saw a drop in per capita state and local tax collections compared to 2016. 

Collections in every other state rose with the rising economy and employment. 

PARCA’s analysis found that, if Alabama’s per capita property tax collections matched the average of other Southeastern states:

  • State and local governments would have an additional $2 billion to fund providing services.
  • Alabama’s overall tax revenue per capita would rank in the middle of Southeastern states, putting Alabama in front of Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee in per capita collections. Alabama would still fall behind Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana and Kentucky.
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As it stands, Alabama’s traditional preference for low property taxes leaves state and local governments more reliant on other taxes for revenue. Alabama has among the highest sales tax rates in the U.S. Alabama also has some of the highest taxes per capita on alcohol and public utilities. Despite those higher rates, Alabama doesn’t make up the difference created by its low property tax collections.

 

Jessa Reid Bolling is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter and graduate of The University of Alabama with a B.A. in journalism and political science.

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Economy

New unemployment claims increased again last week

It is the highest number of new claims recorded in a single week since July.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 14,084 new unemployment claims filed last week, up from 10,986 new claims the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

The number of new claims was the highest in a single week since July.

Of last week’s claims, 11,124 were related to COVID-19, representing 79 percent. Of the previous week’s claims, 80 percent were related to COVID-19.

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Economy

Officials offer thoughts on Huntsville Space Command decision

“We welcome Space Command to Huntsville with open arms and a good dose of southern hospitality,” the lieutenant governor said.

Charlie Walker

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Several elected officials on Wednesday offered their appreciation toward the U.S. Space Command location decision that was made for Huntsville.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth released the following statement regarding the announcement of Huntsville’s selection as the headquarters of U.S. Space Command:

“Alabama-made rockets first launched Americans into space and later carried them safely to the moon. Huntsville’s selection as the headquarters for the U.S. Space Command further solidifies Alabama as the national leader in aerospace research and development. We welcome Space Command to Huntsville with open arms and a good dose of southern hospitality.” 

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, in a statement, said:

“Today’s historic announcement that the Redstone Arsenal will be home to the permanent headquarters of the U.S. Space Force Command is fantastic news for Huntsville, the Tennessee Valley region, and the entire state of Alabama. I’m pleased that the site selection team recognized the obvious: Redstone and Space Command are a perfect fit. Alabama is already widely recognized for its important contributions to our national defense, and this decision further elevates our state as a leader in space and defense technology. I applaud the work of the Huntsville community, State leaders, the Congressional delegation, and especially my colleague Sen. Richard Shelby, for helping make this decision a reality. There will be a lot of work to do in the years ahead to turn today’s announcement into a reality on the ground, and I look forward to working closely with state and local leaders, Alabama’s Congressional delegation, and the Department of Defense to fully and efficiently implement this basing decision. It will be one of my top priorities.”

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, released the following statement:

“With the Pentagon’s selection of the Redstone as the new home of the U.S. Space Command, Alabama is once again blessed with new jobs, new opportunities for our citizens, and new recognition for all that our state has to offer. Since Redstone Arsenal first opened its gates, Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley have been the centerpiece of our nation’s efforts in spaceflight, aerospace, and missile defense. Bringing the headquarters of U.S. Space Command to Alabama only brightens that spotlight and enhances our prestige on a global level. As the need to defend American assets in space becomes commonplace in the 21st century and beyond, Alabama will remain firmly on the front lines of nation’s exploration and defense of the final frontier.”

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The U.S. Space Command was established in 2019, and is said to be the leading force of the Department of Defense’s space operations.

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Congress

Delegation’s actions diminish Alabama’s economic development outlook, say insiders

Brooks faces censure. Tuberville is considered by most a pariah. Only Shelby and Sewell will hold influence on Capitol Hill.

Bill Britt

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Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama., speaks Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, at a rally in support of President Donald Trump called the "Save America Rally." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, last week, along with President Donald Trump, used incendiary language to incite a group of Trump’s supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol Building — an offense that has never been undertaken by American citizens.

Add to Brooks’s insurrectionary role in the pro-Trump mob the fact that Republicans lost control of the U.S. Senate a day earlier and the combination has Alabama business leaders privately voicing concern over the state’s ability to advance economic development and secure federal funding for projects in the state.

Seven members of the Alabama congressional delegation moved to overturn the presidential election of President-elect Joe Biden by voting to not certify the Electoral College vote, thereby disenfranchise millions of lawfully cast ballots based on little more than social media-fueled conspiracy theories.

Brooks, long considered a political grand-standing rube, was joined by Congressman Robert Aderholt, Gary Palmer, Barry Moore, Jerry Carl and Mike Rogers, who, with Sen. Tommy Tuberville, worked to throw the presidential election to Trump illegally.

Only Alabama’s Republican senior U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell followed the law.

While some Alabama voters and at least one media outlet heralded the seven as heroes, most found their actions to overturn an election reprehensible. These men are also being viewed by many in the business community as impediments to the state’s economic progress.

Businesses nationwide have begun disavowing those who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election and will withhold campaign contributions for those who took part in the spectacle.

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Alabama-based businesses are expected to follow suit with their own sanctions in the coming days.

The group of seven’s efforts to suborn insurrection seems to have awakened some business leaders to the fact that Alabama’s political extremism has finally reached a boiling point, much like Bloody Sunday, the Birmingham riots and numerous other heinous events in Alabama’s Civil Rights struggle.

Brooks finds himself facing censure in the House while the other Alabama House members are further diminished in the capacity to help their districts. And Tuberville, widely seen by Senate colleagues as unqualified for the job, is now considered by most a pariah.

Only Shelby and Sewell will continue to hold influence in the halls of power.

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APR is already hearing from Hill insiders that Alabama will pay a price for Brooks’s actions and the others’ revolt, which may very well cost billions in economic development and federal funds over the next two years.

As one insider put it: “Welcome to a new reality Alabama, enough is enough.”

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Economy

New unemployment claims spiked last week

Of those claims, 80 percent were related to COVID-19.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 10,986 new unemployment claims filed online or by phone last week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. 

Of those claims, 8,734 were related to COVID-19, representing 80 percent.

The number of new claims increased from 5,506 the previous week, of which 39 percent were COVID-19-related.

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