Best of Luck, Alabama: Voters Say Yes to Trust Fund Referendum

Alabamians voted in favor of the Trust Fund Referendum Tuesday evening, which will transfer $437 million from the state’s Trust Fund to its General Fund to cover the expenses of non-education related services, such as Medicaid and prisons.

At 10:20 p.m., the Associated Press reported 65 percent of voters chose yes. What. Were. They. Thinking. 

A temporary fix to a soon to be ongoing–and possibly bigger–problem, the amendment will only aid the state for the next three years, during which $145.8 million of the sum pulled from the Trust Fund will go towards General Fund spending each year. Yes, the thought of Governor Bentley making budget cuts towards the education fund is a terrifying idea, especially when the state of Alabama ranked as the 45th dumbest state from 2006-2007. Yes, the thought of children state wide getting kicked off Medicaid and not receiving the medical attention every child needs is devastating. That doesn’t justify voting in favor of the amendment.

What many are not taking into account are the multiple ways the state could save money and avoid pilfering from the Trust Fund. For one, the state would save an estimated $48 million simply by switching from paper checks to electronic. Another proposal from Governor Bentley’s Commission on Improving State Government found the state could save an additional $82 million by allowing some government employees retire early.

What really irks me the most are the scare tactics those involved with the Keep Alabama Working committee used to frighten those on the border of the subject to vote yes. One threat they stated was the early release of convicts due to insufficient funding for the prisons. That’s not okay.

I guess we’ll see where the state is three years down the road.

Here’s a video by award-winning journalist Quin Hillyer better explaining the Trust Fund Referendum:


You Can’t Fix a Leaking Pipe With Duct Tape: Vote No for the Alabama Trust Fund Referendum

Today is the day Alabama voters decide to vote in favor of or against the Alabama Medicaid Amendment, Amendment One, which would allow the state legislature to transfer $437 million from the state’s Trust Fund to its General Fund.  The transferred sum would go towards beefing up General Fund spending that has continued to decrease since the 2008 recession.

Although the Birmingham News reporter Joey Kennedy presents a well-informed and thoughtful perspective on why voters should choose yes, I’m going to have to disagree with his opinion. Voting yes to allow the Alabama State Legislature to transfer $437 million from the Trust Fund to the General Fund would be like duct taping a leaking pipe—it may hold for now, but eventually the leak is going to start again and maybe worsen until the issue is addressed properly.

This is for you, Governor Bentley

Kennedy argues that by voting no, the government would have to further cut back on the General Fund Budget, which would in turn adversely effect certain agencies that aid the public such as child welfare, Medicaid, and prisons.

State Representative Craig Ford couldn’t have put it any better: “You would not loan one-fifth of your personal savings to someone without first making sure that all other avenues of funding/assistance or money was not available to the borrower before raiding your personal savings.”

Plus, the amendment doesn’t mandate the money “borrowed” from the Trust Fund be returned to the account. The General Fund covers all expenses related to Medicaid, prisons and courts. Money for the General Fund comes from interest payments received from the Trust Fund. The Trust Fund receives its funding from royalties collected from digging for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico. So if the amendment is passed, interest payments on the Trust Fund will be lower, which will therefore reduce the amount of money going into the General Fund later. As Scooby-Doo would say, “ruh-roh.”

In my humble opinion, Governor Robert Bentley should re-evaluate all of the options instead of taking the easy way out. Don’t try to duct tape the leaking pipe, Governor Bentley.  Fix the problem with the longer-term in mind.

Blog at