Shelter is, along with food and clothing, a basic human need. Even as the "American Dream" touts home ownership for everyone, shelter for many Alabamians means whatever rental housing they can afford. When a basic need runs up against limited financial resources, there's the perfect setup for an unequal relationship -- vulnerability on one side and power on the other. That's one reason we have laws, to strike a balance.
This Anniston Star op-ed by ACPP policy analyst Stephen Stetson and Alabama Appleseed legal director Shay Farley examines attempts by legislators to tip the balance in Alabama's landlord-tenant law in favor of landlords.
Alabama residents can afford a well-funded, modern state government. We can afford to staff our state historical museum. We can afford to regulate air pollution, restaurant cleanliness and the safety of nursing homes and child-care centers. We can afford to ensure that our schools have $10,000 per pupil to provide strong education programs.
This Anniston Star op-ed by Kimble Forrister explains how the "We're broke" argument serves the fortunate few.
If you've spent five minutes listening to the budget battles raging in Congress and state capitols around the country, you'll know that "everything's on the table." Most political sound bites draw clear distinctions between Us and Them. They have their moment and fade fast. But this time, there's a difference, This time, a single mantra has been building up steam for more than a year. And instead of the usual partisan branding, everyone's getting on board.
This Anniston Star op-ed by ACPP communications director Jim Carnes calls for addressing budget shortfalls with a balanced approach that combines careful cuts and new revenue measures.
Tax Day is months away, but many Alabamians who expect a refund are rushing out to the tax preparer's to file as soon as possible. In fact, some people are so anxious to get their refund, they'll pay someone a large portion of it for the privilege of borrowing it from themselves -- often for only a week or two.
This Anniston Star op-ed by ACPP policy analyst Stephen Stetson explains how refund anticipation loans (RALs) are draining millions of dollars from low-income workers' pockets.
"If it is to be, it is up to me." Alabama schoolchildren sing those 10 words to learn the link between aspiration and personal responsibility. I would suggest that if our state as a whole hopes to realize its aspirations, we need to change the last word: "If it is to be, it is up to us."
This op-ed by ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister proposes three accountability measures for the Legislature to consider on the eve of its special session on ethics in government.
For Alabama to move forward, we have to put our money where our mouth is. We want the economic vitality that grows from well-funded education, health care and public safety. But we can't improve those services substantially until we fix our broken tax system.
This Anniston Star op-ed by Rep. John Knight and Kimble Forrister explains why Alabama's famous "low-tax" ranking benefits only the highest earners.
It's curious how a recession affects different people different ways.
If you and the people you know are still employed, your life may bump along pretty well, except for the depressing reports on your retirement fund. But it's different if you know skilled workers who still can't find a job in their field several months after their layoff -- or if you've been laid off yourself.
This (Mobile) Press-Register op-ed by Kimble Forrister shows how 96 percent of Alabamians would benefit from House Bill 1, a repeal of the state grocery tax.
Looking for last-minute gift ideas for the Tea Partiers on your list? (Most family gatherings feature at least one member who likes to rail against government, though maybe not in Revolutionary War garb, as some of this year's tax protesters have done.) If a tri-cornered hat or "Don't Tread on Me" flag isn't the answer, the following suggestions are sure to please.
This Montgomery Advertiser op-ed by Jim Carnes calls for addressing the 2011 state budget shortfall with a balanced approach that includes both budget cuts and new revenues.
A recent report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington shows that Alabama, Florida and Kentucky had five of the 10 members of Congress receiving the most campaign contributions from the payday loan industry during the 2008 cycle. Of those five, Alabama had three.
This Anniston Star op-ed by Stephen Stetson highlights the challenge of regulating predatory lending in Alabama.
Alabamians are often "thanking God for Mississippi." Were it not for our sister state, we would often be at the very bottom of national rankings of things like literacy, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, etc. However, there is one category where we must look to our neighbot with envy: Katrina relief.
This Change.org op-ed by ACPP policy analyst Stephen Stetson looks at how Alabama's Hurricane Katrina recovery effort are falling short.