Constitutional amendment makes sense

Published 11:00 pm Monday, June 11, 2012

There are always plenty of incentives to ignore or vote against proposed constitutional amendments on an election ballot: The language is usually indecipherable; the proposed changes often involve a county or city on the other side of the state; the state’s sorry excuse for a constitution is so jam-packed with amendments it doesn’t need any more.

Sometimes, though, voting yes for a constitutional amendment is exactly the right thing to do. This November’s general election ballot will have at least one proposed constitutional amendment deserving of approval.

The Legislature in the closing hours of its special session approved a proposed constitutional amendment that rewrites the rules for a state commission that can sell up to $750 million in bonds to help land big economic-development projects. The amendment would make a common-sense change that would help give the state money it needs to lure businesses and jobs to Alabama.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Twelve years ago, state voters approved Gov. Don Siegelman’s Amendment 666, which allows a state bond commission headed by the governor to issue up to $750 million in bonds to entice industries to move to and expand in Alabama. Money from royalties paid by companies for natural gas wells drilled off the state’s coast pays off the bonds. So far, the commission has issued $720 million in bonds, so there is little left to use for an economic-development project.

Gov. Robert Bentley said the state could refinance some of the bonds at a lower interest rate, but the law as written counts the refinancing bonds against the $750 million limit instead of replacing the existing bonds in the calculation. The proposed constitutional amendment would end that double counting, he said.

“It will free up $130 million, and it will really help us over the next two or three years,” Bentley told The Associated Press.

That money could be critical for landing economic-development projects, especially since Bentley’s big industry-recruiting push failed during the Legislature’s regular session. … At least the proposed constitutional amendment on the state bond commission “will help us get through and bridge the gap,” Bentley said.

Birmingham News


But only if voters say yes in November. There are plenty of incentives for them to do so.


Birmingham News