Alabama voters overwhelming approved Governor Robert Bentley’s plan to plug a budget whole by borrowing from a state trust fund. With 88% of the precincts reporting, the yes votes were leading 66% to 34%, a nearly two to one margin. Governor Bentley released a statement thanking voters for their support of the plan.
The borrowing of money from the Alabama Trust Fund was seen as a way to avoid further budget cuts or tax increases. The governor has already made substantial cuts to the state’s budget. Bentley has stated that further cuts would be detrimental to Alabama’s citizens. He was also opposed to raising taxes. The money is being borrowed from the trust fund with the intention of it being paid back at a later date. The measure is supposed to be a bridge over troubled economic times.
Without the cuts, proponents argued that essential services would have to be cut. This would mean less money for police officers, Medicaid patients, prisons, and more. Opponents of the measure were skeptical of those claims, saying the government needed to get its spending under control. They felt there were other ways that money could be saved, and further borrowing was only kicking the can down the road.
The problem may be temporary, for Alabama’s economic future is looking bright. Mobile recently secured a deal to bring an Airbus plane manufacturing plant to the city. There are numerous car plants already operating in the state. The nation’s economic outlook is looking up as well, as the nation has seen 30 straight months of job growth.
As the economy grows, the burden on the state will lessen. More jobs means less people needing government assistance. Jobs also mean more revenue for the state in the form of both income taxes and sales tax. If the economy continues its current trend, this amendment may indeed be a temporary need. If Alabama continues to grow, we will be able to pay the money back to the trust fund.