Public opinion calling for repayment

Published 2:32 pm Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Young Boozer had good advice when lawmakers told him they wanted some money from the state’s oil and gas trust fund.

“I said, ‘Let me loan that to you,’” Boozer, the state treasurer, told members of Brewton’s Rotary Club Monday.

But, as anyone who voted on last year’s amendment knows, lawmakers instead decided they would just take money from the trust fund to make up for a shortfall in the general fund.

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The amendment passed, allowing the Legislature to make transfers of $145.8 million a year for three years to the general fund to help pay for state services and agencies like Medicaid, prisons and courts.

But Boozer noted that public opinion quickly showed lawmakers they needed another bill that would repay the funds, and to their credit they have promised it will be the first one passed and signed by Gov. Robert Bentley in the current session.

For his part, Boozer said he will make sure that lawmakers do pay back the money.

“I pledge to make sure they honor their pledge,” he said.

He has an interesting perspective on those funds, which came from the discovery of natural gas in Mobile Bay.

“That cash is (also) a natural resource,” Boozer said. “We need to pull money out of it so that this generation gets value from it and future generations get value from it.”

Boozer also said that the amendment passed last year provides for a restructuring of the investments in the trust fund, which he said brings them up to date.

And for the record, Boozer knows exactly how his name sounds. He is the third generation to bear the moniker. He joked that he never had to pick up a single sign from roadsides or yards after his election two years ago because a “certain demographic” — voters between the ages of 18 to 30 — had picked them up as souvenirs.

Kerry Whipple Bean is publisher of The Atmore Advance. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by e-mail at