McBride: Funds transfer needed

Published 11:41 am Wednesday, September 12, 2012

For Ulysses McBride, Tuesday’s referendum boils down to one important need: saving jobs for the people in Alabama.

McBride, president of Atmore’s Alabama Democratic Conference chapter, held a meeting Monday at city hall to raise awareness for the referendum to be held Tuesday, Sept. 18. Voters will decide on a Constitutional amendment to take money out of the state’s oil and gas trust fund and redistribute it to the General Fund to prevent further cuts.

“This is not a Democrat or Republican meeting. This is not a black or white meeting. This is about jobs,” McBride said. “It’s not anything new. But it affects us. It affects all of us. We ask you to take a stand and accept this amendment.”

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With revenues down across Alabama, state funds have been cut substantially since the beginning of 2010. As a result, thousands of state government workers have been laid off. The goal of the referendum is to borrow funds in order to cover expenses that have been cut out of the budget with primary targets including: state troopers, prisons, and Medicare funding

State Sen. Marc Keahey, D-Grove Hill, cited one of the leading economists in the state of Alabama as estimating the state will lose about 10,000 jobs without securing the necessary funding.

McBride particularly stressed the importance of the police and firefighters to local communities.

“They are the people who help us sleep at night,” he said. “I prefer that we err on the side of caution: yes.”

State Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, said the primary detractors to the referendum are those who feel the state shouldn’t dip into the rainy day fund. But Baker said he believes the state should use the emergency fund because the situation constitutes an emergency.

“I do support this,” Baker said.

Baker said he believes the referendum will help the economy, and there is a payback mechanism that will be proposed in the upcoming regular legislative session early next year. According to Baker, money borrowed from the fund would be paid back within 10 years.

Baker said he believes it is the right thing for Alabama residents to determine the outcome of the referendum and overall, he is somewhat hopeful it will be approved.

“I’m moderately optimistic,” Baker said.