Two amendments on Tuesday ballot

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 2, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Local leaders are supporting two statewide measures voters will decide during an off-year election on Tuesday.

Voters will decide the fate of two proposed constitutional amendments in an election that is expected to draw as little as 10 percent of the voting public to polls. One of the measures will allow the state to borrow more money for economic development projects while the other proposal would create trust funds for state and education employees&8217; health care benefits.

IDB backs Amendment 1

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Amendment 1 would amend the 1901 Alabama Constitution to increase the bond indebtedness ceiling from $350 million to $750 million. The proposal, which is being backed by Gov. Bob Riley, is essential to the state&8217;s deal with ThyssenKrupp for building a new steel plant in Mobile County.

John Laney, president of the Industrial Development Board for the City of Demopolis, said the amendment makes good sense for economic development purposes. He also said that it should not affect the tax structure of state citizens.

Jay Shows, executive secretary of IDB, said the amendment grew from the ThyssenKrupp negotiations.

In discussions Shows has had with area voters, he said he has not run across any detractors.

Statewide, few groups have come out against the proposed amendment. Supporters say the measure puts the state in a better position to attract new businesses by offering more attractive incentive packages. Of the $400 million increase in bonding power, the state has already promised $190 million to ThyssenKrupp.

Mayor Cecil P. Williamson called the proposed amendment &8220;crucial if we are going to grow economically in this state.&8221; While she, like Shows, said she has yet to hear opposition to the amendment, she is still encouraging voters to pass the bill.

Educators call Amendment 2 a &8216;safety feature&8217;

Proposed Amendment 2 would provide trust funds for state funds to be used to provide health benefits to state and education employees. The trust funds

currently exist but can be drawn from for other uses. The amendment would require all money in these funds to be used exclusively for the purposes they are intended.

Dr. Wesley Hill, the outgoing superintendent of Demopolis City Schools, called the amendment a &8220;safety feature&8221; that would protect the health care benefits of educators and state employees.

Wayne Vickers, who is taking over Hill&8217;s position, agreed.

Both the Retirement Systems of Alabama and the Alabama Education Association have endorsed the proposal.