Editorial: Low taxes, low performance

The following is an editorial from FOX6 WBRC-TV General Manager Lou Kirchen, first aired on Tuesday, November 10, 2009:

You get what you pay for in this world.

That's certainly true in Alabama, where we collect the lowest state and local taxes per person in the country, and rank near the bottom of all states in key measures in education, health and welfare, despite making more progress than all other states in the past decade in some of these areas.

Our services are already strained as a 10% decrease in tax revenues have forced cuts and we've depleted all the money in reserve funds.  

Federal stimulus money will provide just over $500 million in the education trust fund in the new budget and just under $200 million in the general fund, but it won't offset the decreased tax revenue.  And when the stimulus money runs out, what will replace it if the economy is still stagnant?
We will be looking for leadership from our next governor and newly elected state representatives to offer guidance on this critical issue.

Demand answers from all candidates.  What is their plan to raise revenue?   

Should we change the tax structure that sees our poorest pay a higher percentage of their income for taxes than our wealthiest?

We need to continue to fund key initiatives that have helped us grow.

Ranking 50th in tax collection, 49th in property taxes and 48th in taxes collected per person as a percentage of personal income, won't help us grow.

Going backward now is an unacceptable option.

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