Our taxes are amongst the lowest in the nation, insuring no burden on those who supposedly "invest wealth," but what do we have to show for it in this state? Where are those grand investments? Does Birmingham seem growing, or blighted? Do your rural communities seem thriving or bare?
Our taxes are among the most regressive in the nation. What taxes we have are shouldered by those with the least means to pay, or who must work the hardest with little reward to uphold government. The Atlas of our budget has always been the middle class, a true recipe for financial disaster. No wonder proration is inevitably around the corner and a better educated Alabama is always out of sight.
And our money appropriated programs are not to improve education, the great up-lifter and equalizer of one's socio-economic status, or even to fight poverty or create jobs, but are to divert into tax credits for already profitable businesses, headquartered out of state. They pay the least and lowest of taxes in this state, if any.
These are things many of you know, but now, a state legislature actively undermines another branch of government. The judicial branch faces cuts so deep it can barely operate. A damaged consumer has a cap on the rewards they can gain when an employer or service provider is knowingly at fault. Yet, there are no caps to how much education can be robbed of his children, of money from his paycheck, or costs on the essentials of life.
And in the judicial cuts we will create a system in which trials that takes six months to pursue will last two years. Trials that last two years will take half a decade. The cost of justice will rise above the capital in a working man or woman's pocket. It is a sad time indeed when those not of wealthy interests cannot have audience with their representatives. An even sadder time still when those without wealth cannot even participate in the system of justice built to defend what property and rights they do have.
These things will be the legacy of Alabama's brand of conservatism. Pragmatism and populism must prevail, not this corrosive ideology that benefits only those who have and yet still want. Any ideology, whether leftist or right-wing can be bent to the will of a privileged few and that is exactly what occurs everyday in Alabama. Quality educators flee our state, forced out in the name of budget battles, disaster preparedness and warning is hampered during times of storms as funds are sliced in the name of budget battles, entitlements that our parents and grandparents paid into are stolen in the name of budget battles.
May my fellow Alabamians, my fellow vanguards of righteousness remember these assaults while the new legislators maintain their pay raise and sleep in their offices while pocketing their per diems. The iron will be bright with heat come November 2012 and 2014, we will strike, and we will be felt.
-Cody G. Jones