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Sunday Discussion: Five Alternatives To The Potential $700 Million Alabama Tax Increase

Geek Alabama Discussion

So Governor Bentley, you are proposing a $700 million tax hike and you will propose it during your State of the State address on March 3rd.  He even said its tough being a Republican governor and having to propose tax increases.  But, does Alabama really need to propose a major tax increase?  If taxes are increased, will it go to the poor and hit them harder or go to the more well-off and make them angry at the Montgomery politicians?

The governor proposed no new taxes during his re-election campaign, and then he turned around and said the state needed more revenue, aka tax increases.  Yes, Alabama has some of the lowest taxes in the country, and some taxes does need to be changed, especially the extremely low property taxes.  In other states like Minnesota, who raised their taxes 2% a few years ago, the economy has gotten better.  Meanwhile, here in Alabama the state has one of the worst job creations in the country, and the economy continues to struggle.  Yes, I believe some taxes needs to go up.

And for the ones who are affiliated with the Tea Party, you can’t just cut out all government, it would cause the economy to collapse and Alabama would become a third world country.  Alabama has already cut a lot of spending, and if they cut more spending, our prisons will be taken over by the feds, more people will continue to struggle, and basic government services like police, fire, and other services will cease to exist.  If you want an economy to grow, you must have a government!  Too small a government, the economy collapses.  Too big a government, and spending goes out of control!

Sadly, cutting spending will not solve the Alabama budget problems.  If it did, then it would be working all over the country like in Kansas, and it is not.  Alabama is just one in a long list of states applying the austerity and trickle down principle, and just as always, it doesn’t work.  The $700 million dollar tax increases would allow everything to go through without a vote of the people, and I love that because we know what happened the last time tax increases were proposed, it was defeated by a huge margin!

So Governor Bentley, if you want to propose tax increases, why not also do some other things so the tax increases would not be a huge burden on people!  There are some things the state can do to increase revenue, without making people like me and you paying for it.  Heck, even threatening legislators by withholding funds if you don’t support the governor’s tax plan is going too far in my opinion.  Here’s a start, why not cut the salaries of people in state government?  Everyone from the legislators to the governor needs a pay cut!  But, that will not be enough.  So here are five more things the state can do to raise revenue!

1.  Start A Lottery


Why does Alabama not have a lottery?  People in this state will drive to Georgia, Tennessee, or Florida to get those Powerball tickets.  Heck, I even do when I have a chance, especially if the jackpot is over $500 million.  Spending $2 a ticket for a chance to win millions of dollars is something mostly everyone would do!  Why not start a lottery in Alabama, Gov. Bentley has said expanding gambling is off the table, what is he thinking?

And while at it, how about quit fighting the Poarch Creek Indians and sign a pact so the tribe can pay taxes to the state, and continue their casinos?  Sorry people who thinks all gambling is evil and should never come to Alabama.  The surrounding states are funding their education systems on the backs of people from Alabama!  We can keep the money here, and provide better funds to schools by starting a lottery, it’s a no brainer!

2.  Remove All Restrictions On Beer And Brewpubs


Alabama is still trying to grow in the beer industry.  Let me drop some knowledge on you!  In states with little to no beer and alcohol restrictions, the economies have boomed!  In Colorado, with little restrictions on beer, the brewpubs and beer companies provided $826 million of economic impact in 2013.  Imagine if Alabama removed all restrictions on brewpubs and beer companies in this state, business would explode!

Still, Alabama has a long way to go to give business freedom to the brewpubs.  The state was ranked dead last on economic impact due to beer per capita.  The state can allow brewpubs to let people sample beer on their facilities, and buy their beer at their facility.  You can force counties to not stop a new brewpub from being opened.  You can allow brewpubs to produce more beer.  And you can remove any other restrictions that hurts new brewpubs from being successful in this state.  It’s time to get over the days of alcohol being banned, it’s too old!

3.  Stop Passing Laws That Gets Overturned In Court


Alabama Legislators, why keep passing laws that have to be defended in court, and cost taxpayers money in attorney fees?  The people who pass the laws in Alabama needs to think about how much money it will cost to defend those laws in court.  If you don’t want to waste money and hurt the taxpayers more, don’t propose and pass that law!  It’s that simple!

For example, when Alabama passed the harsh immigration law, the state had to spend millions to defend the law in court.  And at the end of the day, most of the law was overturned.  The state wasted taxpayer money defending something that would not survive in court.  The state can save millions of dollars not passing laws which will cost taxpayers millions to defend in court, another what are you thinking moment?

4.  Stop Buying New Businesses To Come To Alabama


If Alabama is good at one thing, it’s providing tax incentives to lure new businesses in the state.  The state has given away millions of dollars to companies locating in the state.  In fact, if the state ended all the tax incentives the state has given away, you probably would not have a budget deficit.  It’s long time for the state to look at all the tax giveaways that have been rewarded to companies.  Some have produced little to no jobs, and some have padded the pockets of those who does not need the money.

Don’t get me wrong!  Some tax incentives have been good to Alabama and have provided good paying jobs to the state.  But not all tax incentives are equal, and some needs to be ended.  If the state has to give away the kitchen sink to lure jobs because the state is one of the worst in America in the terms of job creation, the state needs to come up with new ways to lure companies and jobs to the state!  How about not cutting education funding by the second most in the United Sates?

5.  Legalize Marijuana


Guess what?  People in Alabama said gay marriage would never come to the state, it’s here!  And now, several states are legalizing marijuana, and the economies are booming!  Just look at Colorado, the state has seen $700 million in business and the state has received $60 million in tax revenue!  The state is getting so much tax revenue they might even have to refund the revenue of up to $50 million.  How about getting extra money in your tax refund check!

Alabama could be a game changer, and be the only state east of the Mississippi to legalize marijuana.  People would be able to open businesses, people would be able to get jobs, our jails and prisons would see a smaller population, and it would provide the state with much needed revenue, without having to increase taxes!  This is a brilliant move that would make worldwide news.  And would give the state some great publicity!

So there you go Governor Bentley!  Those are five things you can do to increase revenue, without increasing taxes on average people.  Will the legislators down in Montgomery have the guts to follow my plan?  I guess we will wait and see!  Alabama needs to have adults who will act like grown ups and do the hard things most people does not want see done?  Raise some taxes, get it done!  Start a lottery, get it done!  End all probation’s on beer and alcohol, get it done!  Legalize pot, get it done!

Alabama is a deep Christian state, and some with deep Christian beliefs don’t want to see gambling, more alcohol, and marijuana legalized in this state.  For those who wants to keep this state stuck in the 1800’s, would you rather have higher taxes or a lottery?  You must pick one!  And you can’t ignore the problems!  Alabama needs to move into modern times, and the days of following everything to the Bible are long gone!  It’s time for the state to grow up for a change!  The Alabama Legislative session begins in early March, will our leaders act with courage, I hope so!

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