Writer: Vote ‘no’ to new high school

Does Auburn really need a new $78 million high school? Can we really afford it?

Last year, voters rejected a bond referendum to build one. The School Board is now requesting that same $78 million through a seeming sleight of hand with respect to the impact on our taxes. Regardless of how the Board tries to cloak it, it is the still $78 million in taxpayer money.

Have all available options truly been explored, such as a small increase in class sizes, expanding the current high school for far less money or double sessions as a last resort? I submit that the $78 million can be better spent improving the community infrastructure versus building a gold plated high school.

The communication coming from the Board is misleading at best and borderline untruthful at worst. Vote NO and send the Board a clear message to find a less expensive solution.

Bill Caskey


Taxing tobacco is 'segregation'

In the last few weeks I have read several articles in the Opelika-Auburn News concerning raising taxes on tobacco products in Alabama. In an article dates April 5, the governor wants to raise taxes on a pack of cigarettes from 42 cents to $1.25 per pack. I find this outrageous!

I keep wondering what our state government and Governor Robert Bentley are really doing with all the taxes they collect from citizens, especially the citizens that smoke. Why should the smokers be responsible for most of the citizens in Alabama by paying more taxes on certain products that they use? That’s like asking women to pay more for hair care products that they use on a weekly basis. It sounds ridiculous.

Alabama jumped on the bandwagon and filed suit against the tobacco industry in October 1996. In the end, Alabama received $1.3 billion from the settlement through the end of 2011. In my opinion, that’s a huge amount of money for Alabama. The settlement money went to Medicaid, the Department of Human Services, the Children’s Trust Fund and Alabama’s general government spending as reported by the Tuscaloosa News in December 2012.

As of 2014, the estimated population of Alabama was 4.8 million people. In 2011, the Annual State Health Rankings stated that 24.3 percent of Alabamians smoked. As of 2014, 21.5 percent of Alabamians smoked. That means that less than one-fourth of all Alabama citizens smoke and, yet, the state wants to tax smokers to cover the state’s tax liability.

In the March 1 Opelika-Auburn News, Gov. Bentley is “proposing a $541 million tax increase and the bulk of that money will come from smokers and buying a car.” Please notice that the governor equates the tax hike to an extra $112 per person for smokers and car buyers, although Bentley said most Alabamians will not be impacted by his proposals. That is called segregation!”\

The Alabama tax burden is for all Alabamians, and not just a small minority group.

Celia Allison


Columnist wrong about Social Security

In a recent editorial, Ms. Parker from the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) suggested that Social Security hurts minorities. She proposes that workers 30 years and younger and earning $30,000 or less be given the option of opting out of Social Security and investing their payroll tax in their own personal account.

I wager that fewer than 10 percent of those people would invest their dollars in a personal account - due to more near term needs such as food, rent and utilities - which means that 90 percent of the people in that category would be without a personal investment plan or Social Security when they reached retirement age.

Ms. Parker also suggested that Social Security hurts minorities because it penalizes those with shorter lifespans. Men have shorter lifespans than women, so should we modify Social Security to accommodate men? In fact, white men have a shorter lifespan expectancy (by a slim margin) than black women.

The lifespan expectancy of those with less than 12 years of education is several years shorter than the rest of the population, and here race is not much of a factor. The lifespan expectancy of a black woman (73.6) with less than 12 years of education is similar to a white woman (73.5); the numbers are relatively similar for men, 66.2 for a black man and 67.5 for a white man.

If Ms. Parker and CURE really wanted to help minorities achieve longer life expectancy, she should focus more on education for minorities than worry about the fairness of the Social Security system.

Claude Fortin


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