Trust fund good for county, Powell says

Published 12:11 pm Thursday, June 20, 2002

By By Robbie Byrd, News Editor
Future political hopefuls were not the only hot topic on the ballot at this year's primaries.
Ammendment 1, or the "Rainy Day Trust Fund" for education passed without much of a hitch early this June.
With the amendment to go into effect July 1, many are hoping the trust fund will help keep the proration scare, like the one last year, from attacking again.
Buck Powell, superintendent for the Escambia County (Ala.) School system said that the passage of the amendment was a big win for all.
"This is a great thing for the children of all Alabama," Powell said. "I was delighted it passed."
According to Powell, proration has cost Escambia County $3 million over the last two years.
"We had $5 million in our reserves and we spent $1.5 million this year and $1.5 million last year," Powell said. "It has hurt us."
Even though proration did not go into effect this school year, Powell said that the state was operating off a two-year old budget.
The plan is simple: take roughly $250 million (or, to be more exact, 11.8 percent of the principal of a $2.2 billion oil and gas trust fund) and place it in an earmarked account for education. The first transfer will take place on July 1.
Powell said that the cap for the amount in the trust fund cannot exceed $250 million.
"I'm not sure if even the interest off (the Education Trust Fund) can be put back into it," Powell said. "It's just a backup emergency fund."
The fund can only be tapped into in the event the Governor declares proration. In essence, the fund is to prevent proration.
"We've had proration every six or seven years for a while," Powell said. "As our economy has slumped so has our education funding."
Powell wanted to thank the voters on behalf of the County School system.
"This is definitely a good thing for Alabama and education," Powell said. "I'm glad the people of Escambia County People want the best for their children."
Escambia County voters gave amendment an astounding victory, with 75 percent of voters supporting the measure. Statewide totals showed support to be softer but still strong, with 64 percent of Alabamians approving and 36 percent opposing.

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