Choose progress, vote 'Yes' this Tuesday
Published 7:03 pm Monday, September 8, 2003
Progress is defined in Webster's New World Dictionary as a moving forward; development; improvement.
For too long, Alabama's tax system has kept our state from doing just that. Rather than build a stable foundation of revenue, we've relied on low taxes for citizens that have been supplemented by one-time gimmicks to keep our state government running. After so many years of doing that successfully, it may be hard for citizens to believe our government is out of budget patches, but it appears they are.
On Tuesday, voters here will have the opportunity to change that, not just for the coming years, but for the coming decades and beyond. By approving Amendment One, voters will give our state government the resources it needs to adequately fund our prison system and highway patrol. Our schools will have the money they need to hire enough qualified teachers and textbooks for every student. Our health care system will have the funding it must have to take full advantage of federal programs that require matching funds.
To accomplish these worthy goals, though, the state is going to have to spend more money. That means higher taxes, which means each of us is likely to see an increase in our tax burden.
Regardless of income bracket, property ownership or profession, most of us are likely to pay more taxes in one form or another. In exchange, the governor has promised that each of us will see increased and improved government services.
The thought of higher taxes is certainly frightening to many taxpayers, but the concept of doing our fair share ought to outweigh that fear. The tax burden in our state is among the lowest in the nation. Our property taxes are well below those in neighboring states.
But we shouldn't raise taxes just to get Alabama in line with neighboring states. Government should never tax its citizens just because it can. Taxes ought to be raised only when there is a need. And while the popular issue to use to get voters' attention is usually education, the needs in this state go beyond just funding our schools adequately. We have thousands of prisoners we cannot put in state prisons. Instead, we pay neighboring states to house them. We risk losing federal Medicaid funds that go towards providing children's healthcare in our state. Last year, over $22 million from that source came into Escambia County alone.
The need is real. The need is there. Other fuding options are not available. That leaves cuts to important programs that touch many of our lives as our only remaining option if the measure fails.
In our view, it is time for a change in the way our state does business. It is time to stop settling for the status quo and to make some progress toward a better future. Amendment One will be a large step towards accomplishing that.