This Tuesday, there will be a vote on a constitutional amendment to take $437 million out of a state trust fund to help balance the budget. The trust fund is financed by royalties from natural gas companies that operate offshore. Governor Robert Bentley is backing the measure, and he is confident it will pass. The governor has already made large cuts in state spending, and if the amendment fails he will have to make further cuts.
According to Fox 10 News, the governor has already warned non education entities of the consequences of the amendment failing. Health care agencies and prisons could face major cuts in the event that the amendment is voted down.
States are still reeling from the affects of the Great Recession. The economic downtown vastly lowered revenue for state governments. Most states by law have to keep a balanced budget. This combination of factors have led to massive layoffs of state workers. Since 2009, governments have lost over 600,000 jobs.
Not everyone is in favor of the amendment. Some Tea Party groups, and even some legislators are battling the measure. They would prefer more spending cuts and an even smaller government. They are in the minority, though.
An alternative that Governor Bentley has refused to consider is raising taxes. That option has become untouchable among Republicans in the past few years. With tax hikes off the table, this is the only way to avoid Draconian cuts to the budget. Governor Bentley has not been shy about trimming the budget, so if he opposes additional cuts, they should probably be avoided.