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Tomorrow we vote, but for what?

06.4.2007 by André Natta · → Leave a comment

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Tomorrow is a special election here in Alabama, one of those constitutional amendment elections called for by our current governing document.

Though many things were not resolved in the most recent legislative session, they were able to set up this election to deal with two (2) amendments that could be viewed from the outside as having a major impact on the state’s long term direction.

The most important thing that can be done is to familarize yourself with the amendments. They’re available to view online as they will appear tomorrow morning at the state’s official site for the Secretary of State.

Now, let’s actually explain what the amendments are really doing:

Amendment 1

This amendment would raise the limit currently set on a commission chaired by the governor to $750 million from $350 million for purposes of industry recruitment. Three businesses would benefit from passage. One of the most notable recipients of the additional monies that would be available if this amendment was approved would be ThyssenKrupp, who recently announced plans to build a $3.7 billion steel plant near Mobile.

Amendment 2

This amendment would, if approved, guarantee that money in two trusts formed by two state insurance boards (for teachers and state employees) could only be spent on public retirees’ health benefits. It would prevent the funds from being used for other purposes by state officials.

There has actually been little if any conversation on either of these amendments, let alone the one being voted on by Shelby County residents tomorrow. Most if any conversation has been limited to the effects of Amendment 1 on the ThyssenKrupp deal. There have been editorials in support of it and open letters & letters to the editor against. Perhaps the discussion should be about what’s in the best interest of the state, a thorough thought process on the entire deal. There will be an impact on other deals as well, at least according to this Birmingham News article from June 3.

The most important thing to consider is what is best for the future of the state that we call home. There will be effects in our region no matter how the vote goes. Instead of thinking about the here and now, something that can be applied to both sides of the argument currently brewing over the effects the vote will have on the steel plant, it may be better for both sides to look at the long term (and I mean truly long term) effects the vote will have on the state. Development is necessary for the state to continue; currently many states offer financial incentives to entice companies to relocate. One question may be "do we need to be like the Jones’ in order to attract new business to the state?" Another may be "if we do this, how do we support existing businesses in the state?" Yet another may be "if we don’t do this, are we supporting our existing businesses enough?"

Everyone is quick to jump to one argument or another, however few are willing to weigh the consequences of their position. I’d be interested in seeing what your thoughts are on the issue and how will tomorrow’s vote affect the future of economic development in the state. Let’s hear ’em… and don’t forget to vote!

Andre Natta is the publisher and managing editor of The Terminal. You may reach him at

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Filed under: politics