The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Moving in a backward direction

Federal? State? Local?


In Washington:

The House is poised to vote to repeal the Health Care Reform the country desperately needed, in spite of growing acceptance of the reforms and the realization by the public that such a vote is only for show and a complete waste of taxpayer money and legislator's time.

House Republicans want to go back to a time when young people couldn't be on their parent's insurance, when pre-existing conditions would exempt you from getting coverage, and when (even more) millions of Americans were without insurance.

In Alabama:

Governor Robert Bentley is taking us back to the days of George Wallace with his inaugural statement,

"I will defend our right to govern ourselves under our own laws and to make our own decisions without federal interference".

John Archibald reminded us of how "federal interference" has affected us.
Without "federal interference," blacks and whites in Alabama could not dine together in restaurants, use the same libraries, attend the same schools or live in the same neighborhoods.

It is "federal interference" that returns more than $1.60 to Alabama for every dollar the state sends to Washington. It was "federal interference" that sent the state $650 million last year, allowing Alabama to put off cutting school budgets.

Without "federal interference" we would never have cleaned our air or water.

Without "federal interference" UAB would not be a research giant, NASA would not have brought jobs to Huntsville, and folks in the Tennessee Valley might still burn kerosene lamps at night.

We like our federal interference, it seems.

Governor Bentley also seems to have created controversy has created controversy with his statement that only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior are his brothers and sisters.

With any government, the sheep wonder how they will be treated. Are those who don't ascribe to Bentley's beliefs the black sheep of society? Or will all the sheep be treated the same? As a side note, Equality Alabama is wondering the same thing, and has requested a meeting with the governor.

Local (Fairfield):

The Fairfield City Council is considering reversing some its anti-smoking ordinance.

I don't care what the reason is or who the exemption is for; anti-smoking ordinances save lives. And not just the lives of the smokers.

Local (Bessemer):

Bessemer is moving forward. The City Council is considering raising the city's lodging tax and the sales tax. I don't have all the numbers, and I don't know when certain bond payments and other obligations come due, but here is what I would do.

Some council members want to wait until the financial audit is completed before voting on the tax increases, but that may take several months. And is the audit really going to tell us anything we don't already know about the fact that we need money? No, it may point some fingers (and they need to be pointed), but it won't help us with paying these bills we have today.

So, don't delay. Pass the tax increase. Even if it were passed today, it would be several weeks before any tax money is transferred to the city, that's just the way it works. But vendors and others who we are obligated to would see that we are making a tough move in order to meet our obligations.

Here's an idea. I remember a local government passing a sales tax increase for a specific amount of time, and then it would either go away or have to be renewed. The council could pass a sales tax increase for one year, and during that time could review the audit and make adjustments and look for other sources of revenue and all. The people of Bessemer would respect the council (maybe) for not burdening them with a "forever" tax.

The people of Bessemer would have to realize that we must all sacrifice a bit in order to amend the wrongs to which we have been subjected. If at the end of the year it looked as though the tax would have to remain, then the council would have to pass it again. The lodging tax increase would not be a one year increase. That tax is paid by non-residents for the most part, anyway.

I am still impressed with the Bessemer council and the path they are taking trying to solve the current financial crisis.

And speaking of the council, I must recant something I said previously.

Think of Rice as a continuation of Louise Alexander.

I said that during the campaign, but Sherrina Rice has shown herself to be a thoughtful and inquisitive council member, frequently asking questions in order to gain a better understanding, and often bringing insight to issues.

And in Bessemer, that piece of property that is at the corner of Highway 150 and Lakeshore, that I mistakenly thought was where Dollar General distribution center will be located, is apparently some type of "light industrial" development. Will pass on more information when I get it.


Jason said...

Yes, increasing the lodging tax should be a no-brainer.
It's very rare that I disagree with Joe, but it is a mistake to raise the sales tax. The sales tax is a burden to local residents and makes local businesses less competitive. If groceries weren't taxed, I could support it.
As for the corner of Lakeshore and 150, only Bessemer would want to put some sort of "light industry" on such a valuable piece of real estate. That lot was made for retail. It has thousands (if not tens of thousands) of commuters passing by every day. So disappointing...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joe :)