The cost of two weeks' groceries. That's what Alabama's 4 percent sales tax adds to every family's grocery bill every year. In the best of times, it's a big bite out of the household budget. In times like these, for thousands of hard-working families, it means tough decisions about what to do without. With your help, our "untax groceries" campaign soon will put this outdated tax where it belongs -- in the history books.
As health care reform moved to the forefront of national policy priorities, ACPP kicked off a new initiative to examine the special health care challenges and opportunities facing a high-poverty state like Alabama. Our Health Care Access Conference on Feb. 10, 2009, co-sponsored by Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice and supported by a grant from the Public Welfare Foundation, drew more than 300 health care consumers and providers, policymakers, faith leaders, educators and others to Birmingham-Southern College.
It's an image that's central to America's idea of itself: A group of ordinary people getting together to voice their concerns about public policy and their vision of the common good. It's a treasured asset in our national memory, like barn-raisings and village greens, and yet -- outside the carefully staged "town hall" during election season -- real-life examples can be hard to come by. ACPP is out to change that. In community listening sessions and issue workshops across the state, our members are taking seriously the promise preserved in the word democracy -- "people power."
"Good government -- it's on us!" The ability, and the responsibility, of ordinary individuals to influence public policy has always been an underlying principle of ACPP's work. This year, our community organizers and policy analysts began lifting this theme more prominently in their workshops and written materials. Through our second Poverty & Policy Conference, The Alabama Tenants' Handbook and other efforts, we built on our belief that the democratic process begins with an informed, engaged public.
ACPP members understand that idealism and realism need each other. All over Alabama, these hardy souls find the balance required to keep pushing at touch issues year after year, grateful for small steps but not content with them. That stubborn hope paid off this spring with back-to-back victories at the Legislature. Our 13-year effort to improve housing rights resulted in a landlord-tenant law that defines a habitable dwelling and gives relief from unresponsive landlords. And after 18 years of policy research, education and advocacy, we celebrated passage of an income tax reform that lifted Alabama's threshold from $4,600 to $12,600.