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Alabama Gains Major Air Defense Wing

Governor Kay Ivey and state, local, and military officials on Thursday praised the announcement that the Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field in Montgomery will be one of two locations in the United States that will house the new F-35A Joint Strike Fighter jet.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson announced that the Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing has been chosen as the home for the new F-35 fighter jet.

“This announcement is huge for the River Region, it is huge for Alabama and is certainly a welcome gift for us as we approach Christmas,” Governor Ivey said.
The announcement is a boost to jobs and investment in Alabama.

“From our understanding, it will mean adding 1,000 additional jobs over the next few years and an investment of up to $70 million that local and state contractors can bid on, and a $24 million annual increase in the unit’s direct economic impact on the area,” Business Council of Alabama Chairman Jeff Coleman, president and CEO of Coleman Worldwide Moving in Dothan, said.

Coleman is civilian aide to the secretary of the Army (South), an honorary position that acts as liaison between civilian and military interests. “This is excellent news for Alabama and it shows the confidence our nation’s military structure has in the state, which is already home to four major military bases whose men and women defend our country,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, responded in a statement from Washington, D.C.

“This announcement by the Air Force is excellent news for our state and a true testament to Alabama’s work in the defense sector,” Sen. Shelby said. “The strong support of the community, along with the proximity of Dannelly Field to several other major military bases, saving both time and money, led Air Force Secretary Wilson to choose Montgomery for the new F-35A fighter jet program.”

“The decision to send the F-35 to Montgomery is a testament to the quality of our people and our workforce, and further cements Alabama’s reputation as the leading aerospace state in the nation,” Governor Ivey said.

Joining Governor Ivey at an announcement were Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Sheryl Gordon, Alabama Air National Guard Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Randy Efferson, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, and Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean.

The F-35A combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment, Shelby said.

The 187th Fighter Wing, a part of the Alabama Air National Guard, currently includes a squadron of F-16 fighter jets, a combat communications group, an RC-26 reconnaissance aircraft squadron, and an eagle vision unit.

Governor Ivey commended Alabama’s congressional delegation, including Sens. Shelby and Luther Strange, U.S. Rep Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, Strange, Dean, Commerce Secretary Gred Canfield, and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce for its support.

Rep. Roby said Thursday was a historic day for Alabama and the River Region. “I could not be prouder of the men and women of the 187th for how they demonstrated their capability to carry out this special mission,” she stated in a release.


BUSINESS, PERSONAL TAX CUTS TO BE LAW OF LAND AND CREATES RENEWED ALABAMA CHARITABLE GIVING OPTIONS

Congress this week approved President Trump’s promise to lower taxes to the tune of $1.5 trillion over 10 years by voting to rewrite the tax code just in time for Christmas and the end of the 2017 tax year, presenting opportunities to renew tax strategies including charitable giving.

Alabamians will see an average $2,000 more in their pockets in 2018.

The tax cut means Americans will get to keep $1.5 trillion and send less to Washington, D.C. over 10 years: “We are delivering HISTORIC TAX RELIEF for the American people!” Trump tweeted after Wednesday’s House vote that passed the conference report tax bill.

The corporate rate will be reduced from among the world’s highest 35 percent to a reasonable 21 percent, a cut that will enable the U.S. to become more competitive with other countries and lead to job and wage growth.

Business Groups Hailed Congressional Action

“Lower taxes for businesses offer the potential for job growth, new investment in people and equipment, benefits, economic development for states, and more money for owners, investors, and employees,” said Business Council of Alabama President and CEO William J. Canary. “Alabama’s members of Congress are to be commended for putting Alabamians first in this new economic era to sustain growth and a return to American manufacturing competitiveness.”

The BCA’s partner, the National Association of Manufacturers, released a statement from President and CEO Jay Timmons about passage of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

“When this bill becomes law, manufacturers in America will be more competitive than they have been in decades,” Timmons said. “This is a win for the American economy, and it puts the world on notice: America is even better prepared to compete and win for every job and opportunity.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue said the bold reforms will initiate lasting economic growth.

“American businesses will become more competitive around the world,” he said. “When this legislation is signed into law, Americans will see bigger paychecks as well as more opportunities for jobs and for energy development from Alaska.”

“Overall, the business community is very pleased with the bill,” said Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As for the 21 percent corporate tax rate that takes effect Jan. 1, a year sooner than the Senate had proposed, “That’s a home run, there’s no other way to look at it,” Bradley said.

Life insurers also no longer will have an 8 percent surtax on taxable income.

Between now and the end of the year, taxpayers can adjust their tax strategy to take advantage of the lower rate, including contributing to charities.

Immediate Past BCA Chairman Tommy Lee, president and CEO of Vulcan Inc. in Foley, suggested the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund, a worthy consideration.

The bill creates a new deduction for income of pass-through businesses taxed through the individual code. The top individual rate drops from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. The standard deduction used by most families will nearly double, to $24,000 for a married couple, and the child tax credit will increase from $1,000 to $2,000.

Only 12 House Republicans voted against the bill, most of them from New York, New Jersey, and California districts that would be hit by the new limits on deductions for state, local, and property taxes.

Ironically, the cap of $10,000 for state and local tax deductions on federal returns will expose high income tax rates of some states that have been escaping notice and the impact of their high taxes due to the allowance for unlimited state income tax deductions on federal returns.

California’s top state income tax rate is 13.3 percent, and Oregon and Minnesota’s approach 10 percent. Unless these wealthier states react by lowering their state income tax rates, taxpayers will see their state taxes increase.

Alabama’s statutory rate is 5 percent.

The Senate voted 51-48 and the House voted 224-201 to send the biggest change in the tax code since 1986 when Ronald Reagan was president to President Trump.

No Democrat in either chamber voted for the bill. In the Senate, every Republican present backed the bill. Alabama’s senators, Richard Shelby and Luther Strange, voted yes. Every Alabama House member except the sole state Democrat voted for the bill. Alabama Republican Mo Brooks of Huntsville who is recovering from surgery was not present for the second, final vote on the bill, but voted for the bill in its first go-around.

The tax cut will save American taxpayers between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

Companies Start Spreading Hundreds Of Millions In Tax Saving

Corporate America began responding to the bill’s passage by sharing some of the expected savings: AT&T said 200,000 employees will each receive a $1,000 bonus. That’s $200 million over the holidays. Recipients will be union-represented, non-management, and front-line managers.

AT&T also will begin spending $1 billion in new capital projects. AT&T said every $1 billion in capital invested in the telecom industry creates about 7,000 jobs for American workers. Others followed.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg announced $300 Million in employee-related and charitable investments to spur innovation and growth. “It’s the single-most important thing we can do to drive innovation, support quality jobs and accelerate capital investment in our country,” he said.

Muilenburg said Boeing is committing $100 million in corporate giving, including employee gift-match programs, $100 million for workforce development, and $100 million for “workplace of the future” facilities and infrastructure enhancements for Boeing employees.

Comcast: $100 million in bonuses: That’s $1,000 each to more than 100,000 of its employees. Comcast said it would invest $50 billion over the next five years in infrastructure towards its “broadband plant and capacity, and our television, film and theme park offerings.”


NLRB RESTABLISHES COMMONSENSE JOINT EMPLOYER STANDARD

The National Labor Relations Board reversed its deeply flawed 2015 Browning-Ferris decision (BFI) that held that two employers can be found to be joint employers if they have indirect or even potential control of the same employees

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the BFI decision upended decades of precedent and stability, and undermined small business growth.

In a 3-2 decision, the NLRB ruled that two employers can only be found to be joint employers if they exercise direct and immediate control over the same employees. The decision is a victory for common sense, since BFI had made employers liable for workplaces they didn’t control and workers they didn’t employ, the Chamber said.


SENATE BANKING COMMITTEE APPROVES EX-IM BANK BOARD NOMINEE SPENCER BACHUS

The Senate Banking Committee has approved the nomination of former Alabama U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus to the Export-Import Bank of the United States along with Kimberly Reed,  Claudia Slacik, and Judith Pryor.

Their confirmations, which go to the full Senate, would give Ex-Im a quorum for the first time in two years. The committee did not approve the nomination of former Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey to be Ex-Im president and chair.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The Trump Administration’s Historic Year in Deregulation

U.S. Chamber (Johnson 12/18) “One of President Donald Trump’s first actions after entering the White House was beginning the process of rolling back the regulatory onslaught of his predecessor. Since 2009, that has meant about 14 new major regulations each year, with estimated costs totaling about $12 billion annually.

“On December 14, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) unveiled a preliminary estimate of the regulatory reform actions taken by the Trump administration through the end of fiscal year 2017 (September 30). From the end of January through September, the administration completed 67 deregulatory actions to only 3 new regulatory actions and reduced the regulatory burden by $8.1 billion (net present value of lifetime burden) or $570.4 million annually.

“In comparison, in fiscal year 2017, there were only three new regulations put on the books while 67 deregulatory actions were completed, and the total annualized cost of new regulations was negative $570.4 million. Thus, instead of adding 14 big new rules and adding another $12 billion to the cumulative burden of regulations, this year the federal government, on net, reduced the number of new rules and reduced the cumulative burden of regulations.

The repeal actions for both rules have been issued as notices of proposed rulemakings and the agency is taking comments. The annual cost reduction …. [peak] to as high as $34 billion per year by 2030. To recap: Many regulations were repealed, only three significant new rules were issued, and the total new annual regulatory cost added to the cumulative total was negative $570.4 million.”
You Think 2017 Was Something, Wait until 2018

ROLL CALL (Williams 12/21) “With the tax code overhaul on the way to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking ahead to 2018, in both politics and policy. The Kentucky Republican predicted one big focus will be an effort to move an infrastructure package. The White House has already suggested that Trump may renew that effort in the early part of 2018.

“In theory, infrastructure development could have bipartisan support. That’s particularly important for McConnell because he will have only a one seat majority with the arrival of Sen.-elect Doug Jones, D-Ala. McConnell also said legislation to repeal aspects of Dodd-Frank will be taken up by the chamber early next year.

“McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have adopted a philosophy of engaging in primary campaigns in recent cycles to try to ensure that Republicans pick electable candidates as their nominees. That effort clearly fell short in the recent special election in Alabama. ‘I think we’ll keep the Senate,’ McConnell said.”

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