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How will you vote on Sept. 18?

09/13/2012

Wait! We need to vote on Sept. 18?

Yes, the state of Alabama will have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to our state constitution on September 18.

I challenge our student population to be educated on the issue and to vote. The state seems fairly divided over the passage, so I will endeavor to present you with a neutral and informative view of the proposed amendment, as well as arguments from both sides.

I find it absolutely necessary that the students of our institution be able to make their own judgments and conclusions when casting a vote on an issue this important.

The proposed measure allows for the annual transfer of $145.8 million from the Alabama Trust Fund to the State General Fund for the following three years covering shortages in funding the State's General Fund, specifically in areas such as Medicaid. The measure totals $437.4 million in all to be removed from the Alabama Trust Fund with no structured provisions within the language of the amendment to return the funds at a later time.

If the measure should fail, the state will not have a balanced budget for the 2013 fiscal year beginning October 1. There is much speculation as to whether the governor will call a special session of the state legislature to address the budget or whether a cut in the funding of Medicaid and our state prisons will occur if the amendment fails.

Others, such as the Partnership for Higher Education, Advocates for Alabama's Public Universities and the Alabama Educators Association legitimately fear that the state legislators will look to the Education Trust Fund for cuts to balance the state budget should the amendment fail.

For this reason these groups have strongly recommended a "yes" vote on the amendment. On the opposite side of the issue, extreme conservative groups such as the Alabama Tea Party oppose the passage of the amendment as they see it as weak fiscal policy, claiming that it is a means for the legislators to provide a short-term solution to a long-term problem in state fiscal policy.

They are joined by House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden), but for different reasons. Rep. Ford claims it the responsibility of our elected officials in state government to produce a balanced budget in his statement on Sept. 6, in which he states, "I urge you to vote 'No' on September 18 and I urge the governor to call a special session to require the legislature to work together to find a permanent solution to our state's funding needs."

The resolution of this issue rests upon the population of our state. I encourage you to get the facts and seek out information when deciding how you will vote. You need look no further than the internet for a wide range of information regarding the upcoming amendment.

It is your responsibility as students and Americans to practice democracy, the very traditions that keep our beliefs and common values intact. Be a voice and take a stand for whichever of the two sides of this issue you agree with.

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