WE’RE OVERDUE; THE TIME FOR INVESTING IN ALABAMA IS NOW.
As inflation rates increase, everything is becoming more expensive. Nationwide grocery prices are 11% higher than they were one year ago. Alabama is one of only thirteen states that has a sales tax on groceries. The current legislature needs to quit wrestling with the idea of eliminating the current 4% sales tax and vote to dismantle the tax altogether. This tax places an undue burden on low- and middle-income families, many of whom were struggling to put food on the table prior to the pandemic. Furthermore, all Alabamians would benefit from the repeal of this tax.
Alabamians would also greatly benefit from our state mandating a minimum wage that sets itself on the rate of inflation and is evaluated more often than our federal minimum wage, which has remained stagnant for over a decade. Alabama is just one of five states without its own minimum wage law, and we currently ranked 49th in best states to work in. This is not a coincidence. In fact, we need to improve many conditions for our workers, but let’s start with the one that helps put food on the table and keep the lights on.
But, Richard, you think, if we are cutting taxes and putting more money back into the pockets of our citizens, how will we line our state coffers?
Great question. With just the simple increase in our minimum wage, we will have that much more money coming in from state income tax. But that isn’t enough. To be able to fix our education system, bolster our infrastructure, and handle the laundry list of problems we face, we will need to create new revenue streams. These can be done by implementing a state lottery, which will inject an extra billion dollars into our coffers annually. Personally, I’d like to see the majority of that money go to education, but I’m open to compromise as long as we get the lottery. We can also loosen our strict regulations on gambling. This would create jobs and keep Alabama gamblers in Alabama. Did you know that the 2nd biggest group of gamblers in Mississippi and Florida are Alabamians? That’s a lot of money flowing out of our state for no good reason.
Another revenue stream with the potential to increase our annual revenue by billions of dollars is the legalization of cannabis. It would create hundreds of new jobs and generate billions in revenue. It would also have the added benefit of saving our state millions of dollars a year in “fighting marijuana.” Add millions more when you think of all the citizens that we have behind bars for possession that would now be free and returning to the workforce. It’s a win-win.