Tuesday vote crucial for Alabama

Alabama will go to polls again Tuesday to make one of the most important decisions in state history. No governor or president will be elected and no offices will change. But the vote’s impact could shape the future of the state and its working population for years to come.

The only item on the ballot is a constitutional referendum that would allow state officials to take $437 million from the Oil and Gas Fund over the next three years in an effort to solidify the General Fund and the Education Fund budgets.

“The referendum is crucial for the State of Alabama if we’re going to continue to function and provide services for our people. We’re not talking about something outside of the state. This is inside the state,” Labarron Mack, District 20 UniServ Director for the Alabama Education Association, said. “If this referendum fails, then a lot of people are going to be hurt. A lot of people are going to be damaged. A lot of people are going to lose their jobs. We’re talking, literally, utter catastrophe for the state if we cannot get this referendum through. I’m very, very prayerful and I’m very, very confident that we will. But, if this referendum should fail, we’re talking serious issues within the state itself.”

According to KeepAlabamaWorking.com, the failure of the referendum would result in the loss of more than 10,000 jobs statewide including an estimated 11 percent of all jobs in the private healthcare sector.

The Department of Human Resources would lose 133 jobs, resulting in lost care for 8,800 children. The Department of Corrections would lose 1,185 officers and, potentially, face the closure of three state prison facilities that would lead to the release of 9,500 inmates.

“You’re talking about everything that falls under the healthcare. You’re talking about the prison systems are going to be affected because you’ve got correctional officers that will be laid off,” Mack said. “And if the correctional officers are laid off, you’re also looking at state facilities that may wind up being closed as well.”

Keep Alabama Working also reports that, should the referendum fail, many rural hospitals and nursing homes would be forced to close as well as up to one-third of the state’s pharmacies. In addition to an estimated 17 percent cut to Medicaid that would result from a failed vote, the education system could be drastically affected.

“Budgets have been passed by school boards. They’ll have to come back and readjust those budgets because there won’t be enough money to sustain all of the employees that they have, so you’re going to have employees who will be laid off via the school system,” Mack said. “Again, you’re looking at upwards of 10 to 15,000 jobs that are on the line here or that could be affected if this referendum doesn’t pass. If the referendum passes, for the next three years we’re good to go. And, this will give the state three years to sit down and come up with some sort of comprehensive plan to look at how we’re going to fund both the education trust fund budget and the general fund budget for years to come. It will give us the opportunity to get together, put our heads together and come up with a way to generate that money for the state so that we never have to find ourselves in a situation like this.”

Mack, along with numerous other state and local officials and agencies urge Alabamians to go to the polls and vote “yes” Tuesday.

“We’re encouraging everybody, please, tomorrow exercise your first amendment right. We need you to go out and vote and we need you to go out and vote yes,” Mack said. “When they vote yes, what that basically means is a plan was put together to borrow $437 million over three years from the oil and gas fund. That money will go in to shore up, over the next three years, both the general fund budget and the education trust fund budget as well.

For more information regarding the referendum, see keepalabamaworking.com.