Voters approve amendments

Published 2:42 am Wednesday, June 6, 2007

By By Kerry Whipple Bean
Voters across Alabama and in Escambia County approved an amendment Tuesday that will allow the state to borrow more money for economic development – including $190 million that is meant for the ThyssenKrupp steel mill incentive package.
"This is a great victory for Alabama," Gov. Bob Riley said in a statement. "The people made the right choice, and I thank them. Their vote will bring more jobs to our state. It will sustain our economic growth, which makes it possible to put more money into education. It will keep Alabama in competition for thousands of more jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. The future has never looked brighter for Alabama."
The current limit the state can borrow for the Capital Improvement Trust Fund is $350 million; the amendment raises that limit to $750 million. About $190 million of the additional $400 million will go to incentives that lured ThyssenKrupp, a German steelmaker which plans to build a $3.7 billion facility in south Alabama. The other money will be for projects across the state, officials have said.
"I'm excited that the citizens of this state recognized the economic potential for our state," state Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, said. "This will increase our borrowing power and that will help in recruiting economic development for our state."
Voters also passed an amendment that creates a trust fund to help cover health-care costs for retired state employees and education employees.
Under new federal regulations, the state's bond rating could be lowered unless Alabama sets aside money specifically for those benefits. A lower bond rating would likely force the state to pay higher interest rates when borrowing money.

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