The election set for Sept. 18 will be to vote yes or no on a proposed statewide amendment to transfer $437 million over three years ($145.8 per year) from the Alabama Trust Fund to the state General Fund in order to balance three successive fiscal year budgets while continuing the activities of state government departments without major cutbacks in levels of services provided. Affected are the state court and prison systems, along with the Department of Public Safety, Department of Mental Health, Depart-ment of Public Health, Department of Human Resources, and the state Medicaid program.
The exact wording of the amendment follows: Proposed Statewide Amendment
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, 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 2012-13 fiscal year and concluding with the state’s 2014- 15 fiscal year; to provide a new procedure for distributions made from the Alabama Trust Fund beginning 2012-13 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. (Proposed by Act No. 2012-490.)
The last day to register to vote in the Sept. 18 election on the constitutional amendment was Sept. 7.
The decision to borrow money from the trust fund was made by Gov. Robert Bentley and the state’s Republican legislative leadership, who were faced with a budget shortfall that confronted them with two stark choices: drastically reduce critical state government services across the board, or raise taxes.
They opted for a third way by proposing a constitutional amendment to borrow enough money to cover the shortfall from the Alabama Trust Fund. Bentley has stated the money will be repaid, but the amendment itself does not require it.
Other influential Republicans, including former gubernatorial candidates Tim James and Bradley Byrne have strongly opposed the amendment, arguing the state should drastically cut back government to solve its financial problems for the long term, instead of borrowing more money and postponing the reckoning.