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Statewide payday loan database a good first step for Alabama consumers
Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, after a Montgomery circuit judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit against the state Banking Department’s proposal to create a statewide common database of payday loans in Alabama:
“We’re excited about this week’s ruling. A statewide payday loan database will make it possible to enforce current limits on how much payday loan debt a borrower can have at one time. That will help protect vulnerable borrowers from racking up thousands of dollars in high-interest debt, and it’ll help slow the drain of millions of dollars from our state’s retail economy.
“Alabama still needs to reduce interest rates on payday loans. It’s outrageous that our state condones an interest rate of 456 percent APR on these loans. But a statewide database is a good first step toward protecting borrowers and communities from the high costs of high-interest loans.”
Report: Alabama's process to estimate revenues lags those of other states
Alabama should improve the way it estimates revenues to create a more fiscally responsible budget, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonprofit research organization in Washington, D.C. In the report's evaluation of how states estimate annual revenues, Alabama scored only a 1 on a scale of zero to five because it lacks some practices that Kentucky, Louisiana and other states use to help create strong estimates to guide state spending on education, health care, public safety and other vital public services.
"Our state's revenue estimating process has room for improvement," ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said. "Lawmakers should reform it to improve fiscal discipline and create a more robust debate about how Alabama raises and spends money."
Most Alabamians who would benefit from Medicaid expansion are working
Nearly 185,000 uninsured Alabamians working in a range of important jobs could gain health coverage if Alabama closed its Medicaid coverage gap, according to a new report released by ACPP and Families USA. That number is more than half of the 342,000 low-income Alabamians who could gain access to affordable health coverage through Medicaid expansion, the report finds.
"Too many hard-working Alabamians are caught in the coverage gap," ACPP policy director Jim Carnes said. "These are the people all around us who keep things going. Without coverage, they often struggle to work while health problems sap their productivity, add stress to their households and get worse without timely care. Imagine what a difference regular health care could make for families' lives, for our workforce and for our economy."
Montgomery council vote a bold step to protect consumers from spread of high-cost lending
Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Wednesday, May 21, 2014, on the Montgomery City Council’s vote May 20, 2014, to limit the locations where new payday lenders and title pawn companies can open:
“Montgomery has lived up to its role as Alabama’s capital city by taking a bold move to protect its citizens from high-cost lending. Montgomery residents should applaud their local leaders for the new ordinance limiting payday and title lenders’ ability to keep spreading across the city. Clusters of these storefronts create blight, and high interest rates leave too many desperate borrowers trapped in deep cycles of debt.
“People deserve fair credit terms, but triple-digit annual interest rates on payday and title loans are nothing of the sort. Statewide reform is only possible at the Legislature, but the City of Montgomery deserves praise for acting boldly to help protect citizens from legalized usury.
“Many other cities across the state also have passed moratoriums or restrictions on such lenders, including Birmingham, Decatur, Eufaula, Jasper, Northport and Tuscaloosa. Support for lending reform is growing across Alabama, and we’re excited that momentum for change keeps building.”
'Community eligibility' could help Alabama schools fight child hunger
More than 900 schools across two-thirds of Alabama's school districts could use "community eligibility" to provide free school meals to all of their students starting this fall, the state Department of Education said May 1, 2014. Districts have until June 30, 2014, to decide if some or all of their schools will participate. Community eligibility helps ensure that low-income children, many of whom live in families struggling to put food on the table, have access to healthy meals at school.
"Schools in Alabama should seize this opportunity," ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said. "Adopting community eligibility could make a real difference in the lives of thousands of children who otherwise might struggle to get enough food to eat each day."