Alabama voters, on September 18th, overwhelmingly approved the $247 million bailout of the State’s general fund budget. The constitutional amendment will allow the funds to be moved from the Alabama Trust Fund to the general fund budget over the next three years. Gov. Robert Bentley, who inherited a fiscal mess when he took over in 2011, worked hard to make this happen. But anybody who believes that the state’s financial woes have been solved by this vote simply isn’t facing reality. In my opinion, because of the crisis, voters did the right thing. But now it’s up to our elected officials to correct our problems on a permanent basis.
For years governors and legislators have refused to deal with the fiscal issues facing them. They have routinely taken the approach of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” when funding governmental functions. We have found it acceptable to depend on the federal government to furnish stimulus funds to bail out our state finances. It’s time to stop “kicking the can down the road” and deal with our financial problems in a responsible manner and provide a solid, permanent basis for funding. Hopefully the successful raid on the trust fund won’t give our state’s leaders a sense of finality when it comes to the funding of the operations of state government. I don’t believe the recent vote gives them that assurance in any respect. They still must deal with the fiscal problems that were simply carried over to next year.
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