Vote on proposed amendment will be Tuesday

Published 5:27 pm Monday, September 17, 2012

An amendment to the Alabama Constitution that would transfer money from the Alabama Trust Fund to the General Fund will be up for a statewide vote Tuesday.

Registered voters in Chilton County should report to their designated polling locations Sept. 18 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Voters will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether the proposed statewide amendment should be adopted.

According to a sample ballot from the Chilton County Probate Office, the purpose of the amendment is “to provide adequate funding for the State General Fund budget, to prevent the mass release of prisoners from Alabama prisons and to protect critical health services to Alabama children, elderly and mothers by transferring funds from the Alabama Trust Fund to the State General Fund beginning with the state’s 2012-2013 fiscal year and concluding with the state’s 2014-2015 fiscal year; to provide a new procedure for distributions made from the Alabama Trust Fund beginning 2012-2013 fiscal year; to create a County and Municipal Government Capital Improvement Trust Fund advisory committee; and to provide further for distributions made from the County and Municipal Government Capital Improvement Trust Fund.”

State Rep. Kurt Wallace said he supports the amendment because it calls for solutions not related to proration.

“Any time you rush into proration, I think you make a big mistake,” Wallace said. “Many of the social funds that proration is going to affect receive matching federal dollars. Many times, they get three and four times matching money from the federal government.”

Wallace cited Medicaid as an example and said not adopting the amendment would lead to cutting departments generating revenue for the state, as well as those generating no revenue.

“A business wouldn’t do that … wouldn’t cut good departments that are generating revenue for you,” Wallace said. “Government shouldn’t either.”

Also, Wallace said passing the amendment would give the Legislature more time to make strategic budget cuts.

Opponents of the amendment would not support dipping into the Alabama Trust Fund in order to pay for other departments out of the state’s General Fund.

State Sen. Cam Ward also said he supported the amendment, along with continuing to pass reform bills in upcoming legislative sessions.

“This is not an ideal solution, but I will be supporting it,” Ward said of the amendment. “Keeping in mind the cuts we’ve already made, I think we’re on the right path. Whether it passes or whether it fails, we’ve still got a lot of reform work we’ve got to do.”

Ward said the Legislature has cut more than 40 percent of the General Fund budget over the last three years.