Not good for the guv’nor: Amendment’s passage sent messages to Alabama’s elected leader
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Sep 26, 2012 | 2447 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabamians’ approval of a constitutional amendment that will shift money from a state trust fund to the General Fund to cover shortfalls in areas such as Medicaid and prisons revealed — or at least suggested — a number of things.

Analysts noted that much of Gov. Robert Bentley’s Republican base turned against him. Of the six counties that voted against Amendment 1, five had voted overwhelmingly for the governor when he was elected. (Even the sixth, Pickens, whose “no” vote was probably the result of low voter turnout, cast 56 percent of its vote for Bentley in 2010.)

The 13 counties that gave the amendment 80 percent or more yes votes, only one, Monroe, supported Bentley for governor. Considering past voting patterns, it is unlikely that county will support his re-election, amendment or no amendment.

None of this looks good for the governor, who is wrapping up his second year in office.

One more item: Loyal Republican counties that opposed the amendment are among the wealthiest counties in the state. This seemed to confirm that many of the well-to-do feel that programs the amendment was designed to save are too expensive and, for many, unnecessary. In other words, those budgets should be reduced and the people dropped from the rolls should fend for themselves.

That the poorer counties supported the amendment suggests that voters there understood what was at stake and voted to protect the programs they needed. Add to this the votes of state employees whose jobs were in danger if the amendment failed and you have a sizable voting bloc, though not necessarily one Bentley can count on in the next election.

That’s also not good for the governor.

However, Bentley fairs better with the counties whose vote fell in the middle — those that voted for the amendment, but not overwhelmingly.

In most cases, these counties voted for Bentley in 2010 and in all likelihood will vote for Bentley (or at least a Republican) again.

The majority in these counties consists of people who are dependent on the services provided by the General Fund, people who work for agencies that provide these services. Additionally, that majority contains those who support the programs and hope this money will bridge the gap until the economy grows to the point that the services can be provided without raising taxes or cutting agency budgets.

Unfortunately, if the economy does not grow as the hopeful hope, Alabama will be in this same mess again in three years.

This is why it is essential that the next Legislature addresses how these important programs and agencies are funded. Too long Alabama has limped from year to hear hoping economic forces beyond its control will provide the revenue it needs. That is nothing but wishful thinking. Now is the time to deal with what the state does control and put those sources of revenue to work to the advantage of all.
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