Rainy Day fund passes statewide

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2002

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Finally, the 2002 Primary Election is over and the only question lingering on the minds of parents, teachers, students, and education lovers all over Alabama is… Will there be a Rainy Day Fund?


There will be a Rainy Day fund.

The complete but uncertified results from Pike County were 61.88 percent for and 38.11 percent against. The incomplete results statewide were 69 percent for and 31 percent against as of June 4,2002 at 10:30 p.m.

The Education Trust Fund Rainy Day Account is a savings fund designed to hold six percent of the allowance given in the 2002 fiscal year through Alabama’s Education Trust Fund.

This special account is meant exclusively for use in the education system.

It will only be drawn from after all other means of funding the education programs have been depleted. If school tax collections drop below what has been estimated, the Rainy Day Fund trust money would be deposited into the education budget.

Last year the Alabama State Fund was drained of $250 million due to the cuts in the education budget from money that came from natural gas.

Amendment One prevents those cuts.

The constitutional amendment was supported by both Governor Don Siegelman and Paul Hubbery, a teacher lobbyist, who felt that this fund was a way to prevent proration.

However, David Bonner, head of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, declared that the fund would only be a temporary solution to a long lasting problem with the state’s school funding.

Even though Amendment One passed, that does not mean that the amendment is flawless.

According to State Sen. Wendell Mitchell, the overall intention of the Rainy Day fund is good, but there are problems with this fund receiving money from the general fund.

"In a way this amendment is like the saying ‘taking money from Paul to give to Peter’," said Mitchell.

"We have to watch the general fund carefully to make sure that it does not get dangerously low."

State Rep. Alan Boothe agrees with Mitchell’s view. He believes without close observation a raid on revenues gained from the oil and gas could start, which would take a toll on other state agencies, such as the funding for state troopers.

"To ensure that the money from gas and oil is not completely drained and state agencies are not hurt, we must make sure that the funds from the Rainy Day account are replaced," stated Boothe.

Some are fearful that when all is said and done the money in the Rainy Day fund might go to other causes instead of education.

One who worries is John Key, the chairman of the Democratic Party and the superintendent schools in Pike County.

"I hope the Rainy Day fund is successful," said Key.

"However, judging from the past funds that were supposed to be used for education and were spent else where, I doubt this amendment will be any different."

The Legislature does have the right to at any time revise and vote on Amendment One for its betterment.