Chilton County votes in favor of referendum

Published 5:47 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chilton County voters were more unsure than the state as a whole about a referendum that was passed Tuesday.

The vote will allow the transfer of more than $437 million over three years from a state trust fund to the state General Fund, which is the source of funding for courts, prisons, Medicaid and other non-education aspects of government.

The referendum was approved by an almost 2-to-1 margin. In Chilton County, there were 2,565 votes in favor of the measure (53.9 percent) and 2,190 votes opposed (46.1 percent).

The totals above include absentee ballots but not provisional ballots.

Less than 5,000 of Chilton County’s about 27,000 registered, active voters participated.

“I want to thank the voters for approving the state’s plan to temporarily borrow funds from our savings account to help get us through these difficult economic times without raising taxes,” Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. “Once again, I pledge to the people of this state that the funds transferred to help support critical state services will be paid back.

“In the first 20 months of this administration, we have passed laws and taken executive action that will save the state $675 million annually. We will continue our efforts to increase efficiency and reduce government spending. My goal is to identify a billion dollars in savings by the end of my first term, and that goal is well within reach. Since taking office, we have helped create more than 26,000 new jobs for people in communities across Alabama, and we will aggressively continue our job creation efforts.

“Despite these savings and despite these new jobs, the General Fund still needs this temporary funding bridge from the Alabama Trust Fund to maintain essential services as we continue to streamline and right-size government. We have also identified stronger sources of revenue for the General Fund without raising taxes. Through these combined measures, we will put our state in a stronger financial position for the future.”

The General Fund is budgeted to spend about $1.7 billion in the 2013 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. A “no” vote could have significantly cut budgeted spending.

Tuesday’s referendum rewrote the state constitution to make special transfers of $145.8 million a year for the next three fiscal years from the Alabama Trust Fund to the General Fund.