It’s Time to Rethink TVA Money

If the words of the governor and her staff are to be believed, it is clear that the state of Alabama needs to be spending more money in legislative districts throughout the state. Where are we going to get the money to do that? The merry band of TVA bandits believes that money should come from monies generated for programs along the Gulf Coast and the coastal counties. Democrats will tell you we need to expand Medicaid to get more federal dollars and raise taxes. The Creek Indians and the city of Atmore are volunteering to give the state money in exchange for a monopoly on casino gaming in the state. Along the Gulf Coast, we think we’ve come up with a better idea.

The Tennessee Valley Authority electric cooperative does not pay taxes to the state government because they are a federal program. However, they do make payments in lieu of taxes to the states where they operate. The payments equal to about 5% of their total electric sales every year. In 2018, the last year data was available, the TVA paid the state, counties, and municipalities in the state a total of 87.5 million dollars in lieu of taxes. Right now, 80% of that money stays in the local counties and municipalities that are serviced by the TVA in Alabama. 20% or approximately 17.5 million dollars of that money goes to the state. It’s time we revisit that.

Arthur Orr and his merry band of TVA bandits created a new precedent several years ago with the state’s portion of the BP oil spill settlement money from a federal lawsuit. When that settlement came along, the state was facing a huge deficit in its general fund, especially related to Medicare and Medicaid spending. That’s when our anti-hero Arthur Orr, with the support of his yes men, engineered a scheme to take 80% of the BP oil spill settlement money and divert it to that deficit over the next two years. The politicians in Montgomery wouldn’t have to go back and face the voters of their districts in an election cycle after having to raise taxes to cover that deficit. Huntsville and its surrounding areas in the Tennessee valley have some of the highest per capita income in the state and it’s one of the fastest growing areas, they won’t miss that money and it could be better spent in other parts of the state.

With the new precedent set by the TVA train robbers in the oil spill situation, maybe it’s time that the state of Alabama start receiving 80% of the payments from the Tennessee Valley Authority. That would equate to about a total of 70 million dollars a year going into state coffers, which equates to about 56 million dollars more than the state currently receives. How much rural access to broadband speed internet could that 56 million dollars generate? How many of the rural hospitals that have closed over the last several years could have been able to stay open with that kind of cash infusion? How many more new road projects, or infrastructure replacement projects, could have been completed with that kind of infusion?

If we are bantering about bad ideas on how to raise revenue at the state level like trying to strike shady backroom deals to illegally steal Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) funds from coastal Alabama (which only would generate less than 25 million dollars a year an extra revenue for the state), then let’s throw this idea into the mix. Because on the list of revenue generating ideas that come out of Goat Hill and Montgomery, this would certainly be the least horrible.

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