Sunday, April 25, 2010

Taxes, Taxes

Taxes, Taxes

A Guest Commentary By

J. J. Ray

If one were to spend some time listening to the talking heads on the three major networks, Fox News or CNN, a person would suffer from some kind of mind altering breakdown. Taxes must be the new “in thing” to talk about. I did learn some interesting facts when I began to research the “T” word.

Alabama is one of two states out of fifty that tax groceries. Mississippi is the other one.

Here in Northwest Alabama we are blessed because we also have a two-cent additional tax on gasoline to pay for the Robert Trent Golf course that so many of us use. I am sure that many of us here in Lauderdale, Colbert or Franklin County use this course on a regular basis. Or do we?

Mississippi even with the gambling income, which was reported in 2009 to be 312 Million dollars still, taxes groceries. They estimate that fifteen to twenty percent of that income is from the good citizens of Alabama. Let’s see that would be thirty five to sixty million a years leaving Alabama. This of course does not count lottery monies going to Tennessee, Georgia or Florida. Governor Riley has chastised us repeatedly about the effects of gambling so we have taxes, and more taxes.

That’s right, punish us because we go to other states and gamble. So they can have better educations and our PACT program is dire straits. But hey, we don’t have gambling. Shoot, who wants that three hundred million a year?

The Tennessee Education Lottery has collected nearly $5 billion in revenue, paid out nearly $3 billion in prizes and supplemented the incomes of 4,700 lottery retailers across the state. Far more importantly, it has paid nearly $1.3 billion into a special state education fund that has helped more than 129,000 Tennesseans pay for college.

It has helped tens of thousands more attend vocational training programs at the state's technical centers and it has helped pay for a new pre-kindergarten program serving about 17,000 youngsters across Tennessee, and about $40 million in unclaimed winnings have flowed into before- and after-school programs. We don’t need that either--we have taxes.

Georgia, on the other hand, in its 15-year history, the lottery has generated $10.5 billion for education. About 1.1 million students have attended college on HOPE Scholarships and more than 900,000 pupils have completed lottery-funded Pre-K.

Poor Florida, for Fiscal Year 2009-10, the Florida Legislature appropriated $1.4 billion in Educational Enhancement Trust Funds (including about $178 million in revenues from slot machine activity) to benefit Florida's schools and students. The largest portion of Educational Enhancement Trust Funds, $652 million, was appropriated to Florida’s 67 school districts.

But we have taxes, and what about our college fund? I wonder what percent of Florida, Tennessee or Georgia gambling revenues comes from Alabama citizens. Maybe Governor Riley should set up ports of entry at all border crossings and stop those awful Alabama citizens from going to the adjoining states and gambling. Heck, we could call them the secret police. Everyone get your papers ready or just pray for more taxes and not that evil gambling. There is not profit in it.


We saw this recently on the TimesDaily Forum courtesy of Mental Floss and didn't want anyone to miss it. If you're in a hurry for the punch line, it's at approximately 80 seconds in. In the words of Jed Clampett, "Pitiful."