Guide to the Issues: Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)

An education savings account is an individual student bank account, established by state law, which holds some or all of the public funds that would normally be allocated for the education of the participating student. Generally, the student must meet certain qualifications and the parent or guardian of the student must sign a contract with the state promising to use the funds only for approved activities such as private school tuition, textbooks, tutoring, etc. An authority designated by the state…

Guide to the Issues: Charter Schools in Alabama

While the state of Alabama has seen incremental reform in the realm of public education in recent years, one major component of the national education reform movement has remained elusive. Despite rapid and often successful growth nationwide over the last twenty-five years, Alabama has been slow to embrace charter schools. One of the reasons for this reluctance may be a fundamental misunderstanding by lawmakers and the public of the nature of charter schools. Just like traditional public schools, charter schools are…

Guide to the Issues: Free Speech on Campus in Alabama

Free speech is a constitutionally protected right for all Americans—and those attending colleges and universities are no exception. The Supreme Court has held that “speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.” Harmful and threatening speech has no place at an institution of higher learning. Students and faculty alike should feel as though they are safe to express their ideas, but this does not mean that they are safe from other’s ideas, however uncomfortable…

API Federal Dependency Polling Results

In late October, the Alabama Policy Institute commissioned a poll to determine Republican voter opinions about Alabama’s financial readiness and the degree to which Alabama is reliant on funding from the federal government. The survey of 750 Alabama Republican Primary voters indicated that many are concerned with the level of influence the federal government has over Alabama. Furthermore, they overwhelmingly support specific reforms that would curb the federal government’s influence. Among the highlights of the poll: ·         64% of those…

Guide to the Issues: The State Budget: Earmarks

Originally, an "earmark" was a sign of ownership--a mark in the ear of a sheep or other animal.  Today, earmarks are the sign of bad fiscal policy. Earmarking is the dedication of certain tax revenues to the financing of specific programs. Currently, 93% of Alabama's tax dollars are earmarked, by far the highest of any state. State officials only have discretion over how to spend 7% of Alabama's tax dollars. The excessive amount of earmarking in Alabama's budget denies our state…

Guide to the Issues: The Right of Conscience for Health-Care Providers

Over the last few decades—and especially the last eight years—the United States has witnessed a "sustained assault on religious liberty and the right of conscience." A chief aim has been to force health-care providers, no matter their religious beliefs, to perform abortions. For pro-choice advocates, "whatever the value of religious freedom might be, it [can] easily be subjugated to a higher, more progressive, ideal." A right-of-conscience law is a statute that protects health-care providers who decline to perform health services…

Guide to the Issues: The Alabama Accountability Act: 2017 Amendments

Four years ago, the Alabama Legislature passed the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA). Now, legislation is being considered that would amend it. This Guide explains what the AAA is, and how the AAA would be changed by the amendments. Last year, donations to the scholarship funds of SGOs fell from $25.8 million to $19.9 million—a drop of $5.9 million, more than one-fifth of all donations. The proposed amendments to the Alabama Accountability Act intelligently address this funding problem. The result should…

Unwinding the Worst of Obamacare: Why Congress Must Rescind ACA’S Massive Medicaid Expansion

Alabama Policy Institute joined with Palmetto Promise Institute to make the case for an equitable unwinding of Obamacare's massive and fiscally unsustainable expansion of Medicaid to able-bodied adults. The report comes at a particularly important time, with ongoing discussions in Washington on repealing Obamacare, and reforming Medicaid through a block grant or per capita allotments. In the report, Unwinding the Worst of Obamacare, author Chris Jacobs of Juniper Research Group outlines the difficult choices states will face in the coming…

Election 2016: Proposed Constitutional Amendments

On Election Day, the people of Alabama will have the chance to cast their votes for the next president of the United States, as well as for a number of other federal and state officials. In addition, voters will decide whether several proposed amendments should be added to the Alabama Constitution. Proposed constitutional amendments can be confusing. The ballot language for each amendment is simply a summary—and that summary often does not give voters very much information about what the…

Selling Our Sovereignty: Alabama’s Federal Dependency

The Alabama Policy Institute (API) is pleased to announce the release of our latest report, Selling Our Sovereignty: Alabama's Federal Dependency. API Vice President Katherine Green Robertson examines the decline of federalism—the delicate balance of power between the federal government and the states—and determines that states are complicit in its decline as they continue to sell their constitutional sovereignty in exchange for federal funding. Robertson highlights both the immediate and long-term effects of the states’ loss of authority over matters…