By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama State Senator Scott Beason (R) from Gardendale urged the voters in Alabama to turn out on Tuesday, September 18th and vote “No” on raiding the Alabama Trust Fund.
Sen. Beason said that Tuesday’s, “Referendum is not about the state being short of money. It is about a budget process that lacks accountability and is not flexible enough to meet today’s needs.” Beason said that, “The treasury has the funds needed for the essential functions of government, but those dollars cannot be used where they are needed most.” Beason said that the state’s budget crisis was created by, “special interest groups have used the political process to enact laws and constitutional amendments that earmark or pigeon hole the majority of the people’s money so that those dollars can only be used for what that special interest group wants and nothing else.” Sen Beason warned that, “Government should have enough money to provide essential services, but revenue beyond that level causes government to become bloated, wasteful, and inefficient.” Sen. Beason said, “As long as legislators have discretionary money to use for photo-ops and reelection efforts in their districts, we are not in financial crisis. Shouldn’t those millions be used to “save Medicaid” and “keep Alabama working” before the trust fund is hit?” Sen. Beason warned that this is not the first time that the legislature has raided the trustfund. “We have tried this budgetary band aid solution before. In November of 2008 the people approved a drawdown on the trust fund to prop up the state budgets. After that raid and bailout, the pressure to reform the system was relieved, and there was no effort to correct the problems in spending, waste, and fraud. At least in 2008, there was a provision to pay the borrowed funds back; a provision that this year’s amendment seeks to avoid.”
Sen. Beason said that there are many reasons people will vote “Yes.” “Thousands of people will damage the future of those who come after them by voting to raid the trust fund again. Many will do so because they have been scared into it by employers and elected officials. Others will do it because they think the earmarking problem will never be addressed, and another raid keeps their special interest alive for another day. Some legislators will do so because it makes their political lives easier.” Beason said, “We must revitalize how state government and its budget works.” “Earmarking has made it easy for elected officials to hide from responsibility. I have been in the meetings where innovative solutions have been discussed and seen legislators balk because a special interest group might see a restriction in “their” money.”
Beason said, “We need to send a message to Montgomery, and let those who are afraid of tough decisions know that we elected them to lead. Let’s not put this challenge off on future generations.” “The mass release of prisoners from Alabama prisons does not have to occur. Critical health services for Alabama children, the elderly, and mothers do not have to be lost, and the world will not end if the referendum fails. We can provide a government that serves the people. We can protect those who are unable to take care of themselves. We can do both and ensure that your children benefit from a robust trust fund. It just takes leadership and resolve.” “We can choose a new path for our future, and we can get started by voting NO on September 18.”
Senator Beason is among a growing group of voices from both parties who are urging voters to reject Alabama Governor Bentley’s trust fund raid. Gov. Bentley (R) in recent days has admitted that his administration is working on a backup plan to address Alabama’s budget issues if the voters of Alabama reject his call for a $437 million trust fund raid on Tuesday.
Proponents of the controversial amendment to the state constitution claim that Alabama’s General Fund could see across the board cuts of 17% if the the public rejects the Governor’s trust fund raid request. Education will not be affected directly by the proposed cuts, because their money is in the Education Trust Fund. None of the $437 million will benefit Alabama schools.