Alabama economy making it big-time

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The economy in Alabama is on a roll.

You can always gauge the health of Alabama&8217;s economy by looking at the revenue streaming into state government.

For the past two years in a row revenue growth has exceeded 10% and promises to be even stronger this year.

For a state that averages 4% of growth a year it is easy to see why everyone is optimistic about the future of Alabama&8217;s economy.

The state budget surplus offers our communities a real opportunity to invest back into the local infrastructure in the form of roads, school construction and yes even real tax relief.

This kind of surge in the economy does not last forever so we must act soon to ensure that we wisely reinvest these dollars into Alabama&8217;s future.

Something Alabama has neglected is a long term strategy for road improvements.

A recent report by the Reason Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Southern California, reveals that the Birmingham metro area is the 53rd most congested area in the United States.

By the year 2030 it estimated that the Birmingham metro area will have traffic congestion comparable to Tampa, Boston, and Philadelphia.

While the State of Alabama has invested over $20 million in Shelby County road projects during the last four years this is not nearly enough to bring our infrastructure up to where we need to be.

As additional funding opportunities from oil and gas offshore drilling become available we must make the most of this extra money by using it to improve the roadway congestion in areas like Birmingham.

Any further delay in tackling this issue will only make us pay a higher price in the form of a stagnant economy down the road.

The construction of new schools for Shelby County is always going to be on the minds of anyone living here or looking to move into our community.

It has been years since the State of Alabama floated a bond issue to help pay for new school construction.

With the number of trailers beginning to overwhelm school campuses across the county it is long past time that we start building safe and functional schools to handle the new growth in our area.

With a record surplus in the education budget we must make sure that we devote long term resources to construction and stop taking a band-aid approach to fixing the poor condition our schools currently are in.

Finally, even with the long term investment into our state&8217;s transportation and school infrastructure there will be a significant surplus in state coffers.

The most responsible way to handle this extra money is to return it to the people in the form of meaningful tax reform.

It is immoral that Alabama still taxes food and grocery items.

We must eliminate this tax and give real tax relief to the poor in our state.

For the first time in our state&8217;s history we have a real opportunity to invest back into our communities.

We cannot let our state down