I am writing in response to the article in the March 13 Tribune regarding Wes Kitchens, our District 27 State Representative and the gas tax.
I was disappointed that anyone in office saw fit to “vette” candidates prior to the election based on their views on the gas tax issue. That smacks of heavy-handedness in our state politics.
Our own Wes Kitchens voted for the bill in the House despite running a “no new taxes” campaign.
First, let’s be clear: A gas tax, like any other “flat” tax, asks the poor and the low-to-middle-income-earning households working hard at jobs to pay a bigger percentage of their income than it does for more well-to-do citizens.
It’s called a regressive tax.
The state expects it to cost the average driver about $55 more per year, based on driving 12,000 miles per year in a car that gets 22 miles to the gallon.
But if you drive a full-size pickup or SUV, you’re going to get considerably less than 22 miles to the gallon and therefore an even bigger share of the gas tax.
It only takes a drive through the Walmart parking lot to observe that we in Marshall County prefer our trucks and SUVs large, resulting in poor gas mileage.
In addition, we rural drivers put more miles on our vehicles than urban drivers, causing us to increase our share of the tax.
So, if you’re poor and live in a rural area (i.e., Marshall County), you will carry a bigger burden from the tax bill.
Even if you’re not poor and live in a place like Marshall County, you carry a bigger burden simply because you drive more.
I know it’s best to point out a solution to a problem one sees. Here is my suggestion:
I think we should do away with regressive taxes, like the gas tax and sales tax, at least on food.
Even our state income tax structure is regressive. A family of four reporting $50,000 in income per year is taxed at the same rate (5 percent) as the family of four reporting $100,000 in income per year.
There is a difference between taxing equally and taxing equitably and justly.
Instead, restructure our state income tax so that it has a more aggressive bracket system and raises an adequate amount of money to fund the state government and allows counties and cities to have an adequate funding base.
Will your income taxes rise?
But if you make the regressive taxes disappear, then you’re at least left with a tax system that is more just and equitable. Those with higher incomes and more disposable income would bear a larger burden than the average hard-working family in our state/community as a whole.
Now it’s time to get to the politics.
How did voting for this bill, Rep. Kitchens, show your representation of your constituents?
To all those who voted for Mr. Kitchens (and Gov. Key Ivey), how is this working out for you?
Finally, circling back to the original article, it included remarks by Mr. Kitchens about the intersection of Union Grove with Ala. 69. He indicated that constituents have asked him about getting a traffic light at the intersection.
His response was “the Alabama Department of Transportation won’t approve that.”
Wes, being in a position of public trust demands that you stand strong for the people you represent.
Further, he observed what was done at the intersection of Ala. 36 and U.S. 231 at Lacey’s Spring. He thinks a similar approach of adding an acceleration lane on Ala. 69 would help.
I would like to point out some of the differences between the two locations. In addition to the acceleration lane, there is a traffic light at the Ala. 36 intersection with U.S. 231,
There is also a median, which provided the space for the acceleration lane. Ala. 69 does not have a median.