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: