We set out to write an objective editorial about the upcoming special election on whether or not to transfer funds from our state’s oil and gas “savings account” to the beleaguered General Fund Budget, but the ballot language devised by our esteemable legislature makes it hard to seem objective.
When the ballot language talks of preventing “the mass release of prisoners from Alabama’s prisons” and protecting “critical health services to Alabama children, elderly and mothers,” how could anyone dare to oppose the measure and still consider themselves a decent, moral person?
Once we cut through the treacle of hyperbolic language, we find our state at a crossroads.
It is true that if the amendment fails, those aforementioned groups will see drastic budget cuts, including the state’s Medicaid recipients – who include 50 percent of births in the state and more than 70 percent of the residents of Alabama’s nursing homes.
Such cuts would be catastrophic, and it seems overly cruel to punish these groups for the failures of the turkeys and whackadoos we elected to our legislature, whose failure to pass a balanced budget (as they are required by state law to do) caused this conundrum in the first place.
Propoents say voting the amendment down will require the governor to call a special session of the legislature in order to creat e a budget.
Where will the money for that special session come from, and will the cost of said session be worth it?
Once again, we return to the argument that if our legislators had done the job we elected them to do, we would not have this mess to deal with.
For a group of people who were elected, primarily, on a platform of “trimming the fat” and restoring “balance” to the budget, raiding the state’s savings account does not seem to be the model of fiscal responsibility they claimed to embody and hold dear.
While it is worth mentioning that the amendment currently has no language or means of paying back the funds to be borrowed, it does no good to vote “No” due to this lack of payback.
The General Fund would have to generate funds for the payback, and it can’t generate the funds it needs now, much less the additional costs of a multi-million dollar payback scheme.
We’re all faced with a dilemma regardless of which way we choose.
We either slash the General Fund budget severely or we produce the revenues to fund these vital programs at the levels they need.
And, of course, by raising revenues, we mean that our legislators would have to vote to raise taxes, more than likely.
Can we elect a legislature with the courage to face up to the challenge and do what needs to be done?
Not likely with these jokers.
The scariest part of this amendment proposal is that, past the preamble and its shocking statements, there is no specific provision to allocate these monies anywhere specifically.
Does this mean we have to trust these same legislators who got us into this to spend these new funds more wisely than they did the last time?
Trusting the Alabama legislature – can we really afford to do it?