It all seems kind of hush, hush because very few people I've talked to know about it, but there is an election next Tuesday, June 5th.
TUSCALOOSA | Election officials expect a minuscule turnout for a statewide election Tuesday on two proposed amendments to the Alabama constitution.
“There won’t be a 10 percent turnout -- heck, there probably won’t even be a 5 percent turnout," said Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Hardy McCollum, the county’s chief election officer.
“But we will still have to have all 54 voting places open and have poll workers there all day."
The Legislature unanimously passed the two proposed amendments in special session earlier this year. The lawmakers set the election for June 5.
Suppose they held an election and nobody came? Is it just me or does anyone else get the feeling the lack of publicity for the election is intentional? If the majority of Alabama voters don't know about it only those with a vested interest will show up and two new amendments will be added to our constitution. I admit to not knowing much at all about the amendments, whether to vote for or against, but here is the Cliff Notes version from the Tuscaloosa News:
Proposed Amendment No. 1 would increase from $350 million to $750 million the maximum amount the state Capital Improvement Trust Fund could issue in bonds. Gov. Bob Riley asked for the increase in bond money to help lure new industry to the state.
At the time, Riley said passage of the amendment would help secure a major industrial prospect and that the state would use money from the sale of the bonds to help the company with infrastructure needs.
The prospect turned out to be German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG, which announced this month that it would build a $3.7 billion manufacturing facility in Mobile County, which will employ about 2,700 people.
The capital improvement fund will also be used to provide incentives for other economic development projects.
Proposed Amendment 2, endorsed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama CEO David Bronner and the Alabama Education Association, would create trust funds for education and state employees for health-care benefits.
According to an editorial in the RSA’s June newsletter, the health-care trust funds would be similar to pension funds created for retired state and public education employees in the 1940s.
It appears some of the money for the Capital Improvement Trust Fund in Amendment One has already been committed to lure ThyssenKrupp AG. Kind of putting the horse before the cart:
Legislative Fiscal Office Director Joyce Bigbee told lawmakers on Feb. 26 that the CITF's available balance has dwindled from $89.9 million at the end of FY 2004 to just $31.5 million at the end of FY 2007. According to numbers released by the governor's office, 568 companies located or expanded in Alabama in 2006 and announced 24,780 new jobs and more than $3.1 billion in capital investment.
The proposed expansion will accommodate the incentive packages offered to German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp, which announced last week it would locate its new, $3.7 billion plant in the Mobile area, and other industries considering Alabama, state officials have said.
In remarks he made at the conclusion of the special session, Gov. Bob Riley said the increased bonding authority is "absolutely essential if Alabama is going to continue competing for new jobs."
Amendment Two will probably be an automatic NO vote from me. Governor Riley has teamed up with Paul Hubbert on this one:
Riley has said that the trust funds are necessary to "help the state maintain a good bond rating, which will keep interest payments down on money the state borrows."
The passage of legislation authorizing the education retirees' trust fund created an unusual alliance between Riley and political powerbroker Dr. Paul Hubbert, executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association.
As a general rule, if Hubbert's for it, I'm against it. That's a rule I rarely (if ever) break.
I'm sure these amendments are real important to a few folks in Montgomery, but to have an election where only 5-10% of the voters show up is probably not the best use of our time or money. According to the Tuscaloosa News story, it will cost Tuscaloosa County about $100,000. to hold the election:
County Accounting Manager Bill Lamb estimated Tuesday that the election will cost the county about $100,000 in supplies and manpower.
“Elections like this are one reason people don’t want to be poll workers," McCollum said. “They will have to sit at the polling place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with next to nothing to do."
I'm sure it will cost the other 66 counties that much or more. Next we'll be voting on an amendment to set up a Trust Fund to pay for elections.
I'm not sure how I'll vote on Amendment One, it seems to be necessary. I'm hoping some of our more knowledgeable Alabama Bloggers who have looked at it closer than I have will say a few words about it. Number Two is a definite NO. I don't have a Trust Fund for my health care.
See this post at Flashpoint re: Amendment One. We need to vote NO. Please encourage everyone you know to go to the polls Tuesday and vote No on both amendments.
Update post here.