We need to remove sales tax from food products

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Sometimes we are not ready, but we go on anyway.

Sometimes we are not ready, but we meet the challenge anyway.

Sometimes we are not ready, but we are ready anyway.

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I’m not ready for the 2004 Regular Legislative Session, which commences this week, February 3rd to be exact.

It will end sometime in mid May.

That’s 110 days from beginning to end.

I’m not ready even for the first day, but I’m going on any way.

The issues we face are many, beginning with budgets.

The expected revenues for the Education Budget will allow us to squeeze by.

The expected revenues for the General Fund will not permit us to come close, not to speak of squeezing by.

Two-hundred-and-fifty-million dollars are needed just in Medicaid to match nearly $700 million in federal funds.

If we fail to match, we will not receive the federal funds.

That would mean a loss of nearly one billion dollars in health services for our children, seniors, others in real need and our economy.

It would also spell a loss of thousands of jobs.

I’m not ready, but we must meet the challenge anyway.

Even before we meet in Regular Session, Governor Riley is talking about a special session within the Regular Session.

I see absolutely no need for a special session.

In my humble opinion, it would be a waste of time and money because any bills to be presented in a special session can be presented in the Regular Session.

Our last special session within a regular session produced propositions that were roundly defeated by the people at the polls.

I’m not ready for the Regular Session.

I’m certainly not ready for a special session.

I will not go to a special session without a fight.

In our last Education Budget, I was deeply pained when we cut out funds for schoolbooks except for K-2 grades.

It pained me for I remember my mother and father, who eventually had 13 children, struggling to buy schoolbooks with non-existent monies.

We children had to miss the first several weeks of school each year to pick cotton in order to buy books and other school necessities.

I’m not ready for this session, but I am ready to correct this miscarriage of public education.

Alabama is one of three states whose health insurance programs do not make adequate provision for diabetes patients.

I have seen the terrible costs of diabetes up close.

My mother died from the ravages of related diseases, losing one leg and then the other.

I cannot help my mother, but there are thousands of diabetic patients who struggle needlessly to secure diabetes related services.

I’m not ready for this legislative session, but I’m ready to change this situation.

Our tax system is terribly deformed.

The working poor pay income tax starting at $90 per week, $4,600 per year.

They do not receive federal tax deductions because federal income taxes are not paid until taxpayers make about $20,000.

Therefore, the effective tax rate on $4,600 is much higher than the rate for those making $46,000 or $460,000.

I know the public is not ready to increase taxes, but we can and must reform this terrible tax system without raising additional revenues.

I’m not ready for this session, but I am ready to tackle this deformed tax system.

While we are working on tax reform, I want to find a way to remove sales tax from food.

Food is an absolute necessity of life.

Good tax policy does not tax such necessities for human babies, especially while exempting food for baby cattle (calves).

I’m not ready for this session, but I am ready to fight to correct such injustices.

We will tackle accountability this session. I strongly believe in accountability. We must be accountable. However, we must be accountable to all Alabama citizens. We cannot be accountable to the greedy while neglecting the needy. As we account, we cannot balance the scales on those who have the least while protecting those who have the most. I am not ready for this session but I am ready to be accountable by including all citizens in the suffering, sacrificing and struggle.

There is so much to do in this Regular Session.

There is so much that can be done.

I have named just a few items that are heavy on my heart.

I’m not ready for this session, but I am ready to meet the challenges.

I am not ready for this session, but I am, within moral and legal boundaries, ready to do whatever is necessary.