The AP reports that “despite fire-and-brimstone opposition to taxes” in the state, the government still maintains its property tax that once funded the Alabama Confederate Soldiers’ Home. Given that the last of Alabama’s some 60,000 Confederate veterans died generations ago, the Soldiers’ Home closed down years ago. Instead of eliminating the tax, the state now uses it to fund a Confederate Memorial Park where the home used to sit. The tax “brings in more than $400,000 annually for the park” for its operations (which includes hoisting several confederate flags) and its investments. According to park director Bill Rambo, this tax is not overlooked but was purposefully maintained by Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to fund the park:
The old Confederate pension tax that funds the park has never been seriously threatened, Rambo said. Backers were upset this year when Gov. Robert Bentley’s budget plan eliminated state funding for historic sites because of tight revenues, he said, but the park’s earmarked funding survived.
“Once I informed the public what was going on the support just rose up,” said Rambo, the director since 1989. Two heritage groups, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy, led the charge, but ordinary citizens complained too, he said.
There is no other state that “still collects a tax so directly connected to the Civil War.” What’s more, this park remains “the envy of other Alabama historic sites” which are “fighting for survival” without the same state funding privilege. Workers at the home of Helen Keller “fear losing letters written by the famed activists because of a lack of state funding for preservation of artifacts.” The state-owned Fort Gaines “is in danger of being undermined by waves after nearly 160 years standing guard at the entry of Mobile Bay.”
The idea that a GOP-led government would prioritize an element of its past that’s inherently tied to slavery above all others, and maintain a tax to do so, struck one Alabama lawmaker as particularly absurd. “We should not be spending one nickel for that,” said African American state Rep. Alvin Homes (D). “I’m going to try to get rid of it.”