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Amendment One: step in right direction

By Staff
Staff Editorial
As we make our way to the polls next week there will be one item on the ballot that could make the biggest impact on the lives of Escambia Countians and the rest of the state – Amendment One.
This legislation will provide for millions of dollars to each county and city government in the state to be used for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of some of the worst roads and bridges in the entire nation.
In Alabama, with the beginning of the 2000 school year, the number of county bridges closed to school buses had grown to more than 1,900. The cost to the state in detour miles, which is estimated at 17,000, will be more than $7 million during this school year.
Escambia County is not immune when it comes to insufficient funding for much-needed bridge repair. In fact, the $3.2 million the county would receive with the passage of Amendment One will go entirely toward bridge projects. But, with Amendment One, Brushy Creek bridge, Narrow Gap bridge, Jernigan Mill Creek bridge, Burnt Corn Creek bridge, and others will be brought back to code in a matter of years. Without Amendment One, it could take decades.
Amendment One will do more than help with the current bridge and road woes of the state. It will also build on the state's recent momentum of bringing in new, much-needed, high-tech jobs such as the past successes with Mercedes, Honda and Boeing.
The amendment will modernize the Mobile docks, which could have a direct impact on the economies of southwestern Alabama cities such as Atmore. It will also provide funding for necessary incentives for economic development that could be the difference in a company moving in to Alabama.
The state will use up to $5.7 million for a technology research center for the state's beleaguered textile industry.
The recently-formed Alabama Commerce Commission will also get a piece of the pie to help them in their goal to bring more businesses and industries into the state.
Amendment One also will help the Alabama farmers as the state's agriculture research and development labs at Auburn University will be modernized and better equipped to handle modern agricultural problems.
Many law enforcement officials are also backing Amendment One as Alabama's forensics lab will get $17.5 million for improvements. With the current situation, forensics evidence reports often leave state prosecutors waiting for weeks at a time before proceeding with capital murder cases. As crucial evidence is sitting at the lab, criminals are slipping away from justice's grasp.
State and local government officials are often faced with tough decisions such as raising taxes to increase revenues for various projects. It is the voters who constantly cry out that these bodies should re-evaluate what they get and how they are spending it. Amendment One is a clear example of what can be done when politicians think outside of the tax box and get creative.
This legislation could bring to light a new Alabama. One that is proactive instead of reactive. One that does more than talk about jobs and growth – it follows through with a plan to make it happen.
Amendment One could be one of the best and imaginative pieces of legislation to come out of Montgomery in years. On Nov. 7, voters have an opportunity to seize that momentum and improve Alabama roads, bridges, industrial development, commerce and law enforcement in one push of a lever.
Vote yes for Amendment One and a better, safer Alabama.