I love living in Birmingham.
I love living in Alabama.
We live in a beautiful state with kind and generous people.
But the State of Alabama is just not competitive with many Southern states.
Our opportunities would be so much greater both personally and professionally if Birmingham were located in a surrounding southern state like Tennessee.
Tennessee offers free college education for students and adults
In 2014 Tennessee lawmakers passed legislation to provide tuition and fees to all students at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institution offering an associate’s degree program.
Then this year Tennessee upped the ante by approving legislation to extend those college scholarships to adults who don’t already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
Every high school graduate in the state of Tennessee soon will have an opportunity to earn an associate degree tuition free.
You may worry that poor Tennesseans will be saddled with exorbitant taxes to pay for these scholarships–but you’d be wrong.
Tennessee has no income tax
Last year our northern neighbor became the second state ever to eliminate its income tax.
Tennessee has long bragged that it is an income tax-free state, but even though it did not assess an income tax on labor, it levied a six percentage tax on investments income.
Last year Tennessee eliminated that tax and now no one in the State of Tennessee pays a state income tax.
Alabama, on the other hand, offers no college scholarships to students or adults, but levies an income tax with a top rate of 5% for individuals earning as little as $3,000 or more a year.
Our children and grandchildren have fewer opportunities
I have a 10 year old grandson who lives in Atlanta. He’s a good student and will likely receive a Georgia Hope Scholarship to fund his college education.
The State of Alabama offers no potential tuition assistance for my two grandchildren living in Birmingham.
But it gets worse.
Alabama taxes groceries
Alabama does not fund public transportation
Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, and Utah allocate zero dollars for transit.
Alabama economy stagnant
According to the Birmingham Business Journal, “Alabama’s ranking was affected mostly by its high unemployment rate – tied for third highest in the country – and its low median household income, which ranked fourth lowest among all 50 states and the District of Columbia.”
All major Alabama cities suffering
You may think that other major Alabama cities are doing better than Birmingham—but we’re all struggling.
A good measure of economic prosperity would be job growth.
Average labor force increase/decrease 2011-2015 (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 21, 2017)
- Austin +11.3%
- Raleigh +9.8%
- Charlotte +7.1%
- Nashville +5.2%
- Richmond +3.8%
- Jacksonville +3.3%
- Atlanta +2.8%
- Huntsville -.7%
- Birmingham -2.2%
- Montgomery -4%
- Mobile -5%
- Alabama -2.6%
- U.S. +2.3%
I propose our Birmingham region secede from Alabama and become part of Tennessee.
If we could convince the University of Alabama and Nick Saban to come along, we’d have it all.
Editor’s note: Tennessee has a lottery that funds its free tuition program. Alabama is one of only six states that does not have a lottery. Mississippi and Nevada don’t have lotteries–but have legalized gambling. It’s obvious why Utah doesn’t have a lottery. The only other two states without a lottery are Alaska and Hawaii.
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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org