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“Gene Stallings, Pat Dye, Granny, & Prisons” (Standing on a “Trust” fund’s shifting foundation)

Allen Farley

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By Rep. Allan Farley

As we sat in front of our television, waiting for the results of the vote on Alabama’s latest Constitutional Amendment, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There on the television were our old friends Gene Stallings and Pat Dye.  TURN IT UP!!!  Wait a minute.  Say it ain’t so.  Our two, million dollar, coaches are inviting us to go hunting.  And it’s paid for by another TRUST FUND.  (I thought we just voted to borrow $457 million dollars so Granny wouldn’t be kicked out of the nursing home)?

Just think about it. Why do we call them “TRUST” funds?  Who do we trust? (Please don’t say politicians).  Would you believe your Alabama “Trust” Fund has been violated 5 times since it was created in 1985?  (Sound Trustworthy)?  Five different Constitutional Amendments.  Wow!  That means WE voted to change the distribution of OUR money.  Would you believe the vote in 2000 was actually “Amendment 666”?  (I hope your searching for your Bible).

In 2000, “Amendment 666” was placed on the ballot and ratified by voters.  This redistributes 35% of the oil and gas CAPITAL payments paid into the ATF to two newly created “trust” funds. The amendment also gives the Board the authority to transfer up to 75% of the realized and unrealized CAPITAL GAINS on investments, excluding fixed income securities, to the general fund.

Alabama Constitutional Amendment “666” created two new “Trust” funds: (1) The County and Municipal Government Capital Improvement Trust Fund. (2) The Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund.  In Section I of Amendment 666 it states: “The Legislature finds that the capital improvements and technology required by many government programs could be more efficiently funded through the establishment of a special trust fund dedicated to funding such improvements.”  So, in 2000 our Alabama “Trust” Fund had 35% of its incoming capital redistributed to fund “government programs”.

Amendment 709, approved by voters in 2002 created the “Education Trust Fund Rainy Day Account” with the Alabama Trust Fund.  (This fund was credited with $248 million).

On November 4, 2008 voters approved Amendment 803.  This amendment (1) repealed Amendment 709; (2) re-established the “Education Trust Fund Rainy Day Account” within the Alabama Trust Fund and (3) established a “General Fund Rainy Day Account” within the Alabama Trust Fund (Act No. 2008-508).

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(I almost forgot about our two coaches’ television commercial).

In 1992, voters approved Amendment 543, establishing the “Forever Wild Land Trust Fund”.  This amendment was the first time since the 1985 creation of the Alabama Trust fund that the ATF redirected the trust income, being reinvested in the ATF, to the “Forever Wild Land Trust”.  This land trust receives 10% of ATF yearly interest and dividend income.  That amount is currently capped at $15 million each year.  Forever Wild Land Trust has purchased 227,000 acres of land in Alabama for public use.  Their website states the trust owns 165,000 acres.

In 1978 the discovery of natural gas in Mobile Bay led to active drilling and development of the large gas reserves below Alabama’s coastal waters.  That discovery was the foundation of what is now the “Alabama Trust Fund”.  Originally, interest and dividend income generated by the ATF was to be transferred to the State’s General Fund where it would be appropriated to fund such services as prisons, mental health programs, elderly care, and public safety.

Have the sands under the ATF’s foundation shifted over the years?

Matthew 6:26-27   “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

God Bless America.

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