Infrastructure & Economic Development
I have a bold plan for District 3 infrastructure and economic development. These ideas will put Shoals residents back to work, attract businesses, and improve safety and quality of life for the citizens. My ideas include:
Build overpasses for traffic at the railroad tracks on Avalon Avenue and Montgomery Avenue. Ground level crossings for railroad tracks are a huge safety concern in our district for both the railroad company and the citizens. Thousands of labor hours are wasted in our district each day as citizens patiently wait for trains to roll by. Students and faculty at Northwest-Shoals Community College all regularly get stuck waiting on the train to cross the road. For around $20 million each, we could eliminate these ground level crossings by building overpasses that would also increase traffic flow and quality of life. This has been a problem for decades and it is time to fix the problem.
Turn the Colbert Steam Plant industrial site into a useable site for automobile manufacturing (or another similar use.) This location has access to major highways and the Tennessee River, and several automobile manufacturers are already rumored to be looking at using the property for this purpose.
Establish a port authority at the Colbert Steam plant location. This site can hold 70 barges at once, which creates a huge opportunity for our local farmers. Currently, the Co-ops are spending around 30 cents per bushel to truck grain to Memphis so it can be loaded onto barges headed to the Midwest. I believe that if we have the capability to ship the grain out on barges ourselves, our local famers could improve their razor-thin profit margins.
Develop the old International Paper site into a useable industrial site. Recruit a company to repurpose this location and bring manufacturing jobs back to the Shoals.
I want to keep our tax dollars at home so they work for us. Right now, the major infrastructure projects are going to Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile. I will make sure that District 3 will get its fair share of infrastructure projects.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Every politician in Alabama promises to create jobs in their district; however, few of them actually know how. Even fewer have ever actually created a job themselves or started a small business. I am 32 years old, and have started multiple small businesses and created 40 Alabama jobs. I have seen first-hand how government regulations, fees, and red tape stunt business growth and discourage entrepreneurship.
As your representative in Montgomery, I will sponsor a bill to eliminate the Business Personal Property tax and Business Privilege tax. These two job-killers are paperwork nightmares and one goes so far as to charge tax annually on all business assets. That includes desks, chairs, lamps, coffee pots, trashcans, staplers, Christmas decorations, toilet paper, etc. It’s just nuts!
I have fought several ballot referendums that sought to raise taxes on hard-working Alabama residents. One of these tax increases was on the ballot in Colbert County. In 2013 Colbert had raised property taxes by 3 mills. By the spring of 2015 the Colbert County School Board was again seeking higher taxes. I led a group of grassroots activists who defeated this “Farm Tax” by a shocking 87% to 13% margin. (Over the next 2 years, the reserves of the Colbert County School Board went from $3 million to $6 million, proving the proposed tax increase had been completely unnecessary.)
As your representative, I will do my best to keep from raising taxes. I will seek instead to creatively fund necessary programs, eliminate government waste, and collect millions of dollars of taxes that slip through the cracks by those who cheat the system. I also am totally opposed to an Internet sales tax because it taxes a segment of our economy that is continuing to experience high growth and is creating new jobs.
I believe government has an important role to play in economic development. It is the government’s responsibility to create a business-friendly environment by keeping taxes low, regulations few, and playing fields level. Beyond these three things, government’s role should be merely recruiting businesses based on the availability of natural resources, convenience to population centers, and ensuring local infrastructure meets the needs of private enterprise.
I oppose expanding existing social welfare programs, and do not support corporate welfare programs.
I will promote organic economic growth through small business formation. I support entrepreneurship and free enterprise, which will bring us the jobs that we need into this district. I will also promote these two education ideas which will directly impact the future of our local economy:
1 – Teach entrepreneurship classes beginning in high school. Children today are programmed to look for jobs rather than looking for opportunities.
2 – Allow students to explore multiple interests rather than pressuring them to choose a career track at a young age.
Alabama is required by law to have a balanced budget. We have a surplus in the education fund budget and a deficit in the general fund budget. Additionally, all of the growth tax revenues (sales and property taxes) are in the education budget. We need to do what any common-sense family budgeter would do: combine the two budgets. This would allow us to shift money so that we could balance both budgets. There are fewer than 5 states in America that still have separate budgets for education and the general fund.
We also need to end the practice of earmarking our budgets. Almost 90% of our state budget is earmarked, making it difficult (and often impossible) for the legislators to identify and eliminate overlap and waste.