Local poll doesn’t bode well for Sept. 18 vote

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, July 26, 2012

An important decision is looming for Alabama residents.

On Sept. 18, voters in Alabama will go to the polls to cast ballots on a constitutional referendum.

At stake in the special election is an amendment that would allow the state government to “borrow” $197 million from the state’s oil and gas trust fund to balance the 2013 budget. The amendment also would allow the state to “borrow” $145 million from that same fund in 2014 and 2015.

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It’s a highly debated issue. Most fiscal conservatives – even most taxpayers – are loathe to open the door to allow lawmakers to tap savings just to balance the budget.

But lawmakers, even fiscally conservative ones such as our own state Rep. Bryan Taylor, warn that without tapping these savings, the state will face difficult and painful decisions. Those decisions include whether or not to cut funding for prisons and mental health facilities, or slashing Medicaid funding, leaving hospitals; nursing homes; and the millions of elderly, disabled, pregnant women and children who depend on the program without support. Lawmakers are between a proverbial rock and a hard place, as are Alabama voters forced to make a difficult decision.

Politicians and forecasters are hesitatant to predict what might happen on Sept. 18. The Messenger’s online poll this week showed the “no” votes outpacing support for the measure 3 to 1.

If our local website poll results hold true, the measure is headed for a sound defeat. And what happens next will be anybody’s guess.