Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) saw her approval rating decline precipitously this year. According to Morning Consult, which publishes a quarterly survey of approval ratings for all 50 governors, Governor Ivey’s approval rating has declined substantially and was a noteworthy drop compared to her counterparts in other states.
“The state’s former No. 2, who is serving her first full term as the leader of the state, saw her net approval decline by 17 percentage points,” Morning Consult reported in its Q2 gubernatorial approval survey. “Democrats and independents soured on Ivey’s job performance by 20 and 18 points, respectively, but Republicans were also 15 points less likely to approve of her.”
Morning Consult tried to pin Ivey’s drop in approval on abortion-related legislation that consumed the media’s attention during the legislative session, but a better explanation is the regressive gas tax hike that Governor Ivey made her top priority upon moving into the governor’s mansion. In fact, Morning Consult’s survey points out that none of the other governors who enacted the same abortion restrictions this year have experienced a drop in approval rating like Ivey has. That’s because none of those governors also imposed a regressive tax hike this year like Ivey did in Alabama.
In fact, because Governor Ivey made this gas tax hike her top priority, the first vote ever cast by many freshman Republican legislators was a vote for a gas tax hike that will disproportionately harm low and middle income households in their districts. No corresponding tax relief has since been enacted by Alabama lawmakers, despite smart recommendations from Alabama Policy Institute and others who are calling upon Alabama legislators to provide much-needed tax relief.
Adding insult to injury, following the gas tax hike passed earlier this year, some Alabama employers and households are now being hit with large property tax hikes. Jefferson County, Alabama’s most populous county, has significantly increased property appraisals for both residential and commercial properties. The result is that some home values are going up by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“In Jefferson County, people are going to be shocked when they see it,” Abe Brand, a Birmingham, AL-based property tax consultant told AL.com’s William Thornton. “Some of these increases may be deserved. There will be a lot which will not be.”
Exacerbating the pain and shock to taxpayers, Jefferson County sent their tax cards late this year, which left taxpayers with only a month to dispute the jacked up assessments.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Were Alabama to have a property tax cap on the books like those found in other states, taxpayers would be protected from the massive property tax hikes now hitting employers and families in Alabama. These property tax adjustments are not limited to Jefferson County.
“Jefferson County is one of twenty-one counties implementing the new Alabama appraisal manual for ad valorem tax collections beginning October 1st 2019,” reports ABC 33 Birmingham. “According to the department representative, in the first year of this process each county is to establish their own value of land and improvement values of personal property.”
The Alabama Legislature isn’t scheduled to convene until February. Yet if Alabama lawmakers were able to call an early special session to raise the state gas tax this year, perhaps they can call and early special session to provide tax relief and to enact a clearly-needed property tax cap. That’s an idea Americans for Tax Reform will be urging Alabama lawmakers to consider as the 2019 comes to a close and the 2020 session rapidly approaches.