Local superintendents support Amendment 1

Published 12:51 am Saturday, October 25, 2008

Top educators in Marengo County are urging voters to support Amendment 1 when they vote in the general election Nov. 4.

Dubbed the “Rainy Day Amendment”, it will allow the governor to borrow up to $437 million from the Rainy Day Trust Fund and $188 million from the general fund to cover a shortfall in money needed for the education budget.

The money will have to be paid back in six years for the education rainy day fund and 10 years for the general fund.

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“A lot of people still do not understand what this amendment will do,” said Demopolis Schools Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers. “It essentially fixes a cap that was placed on the Rainy Day fund in 2002 and brings that amount more inline with what is needed to see the state education fund through the inevetiable hard economic times we are facing.”

Alabama has two rainy day accounts for the Education Trust Fund, which are used to prevent shortfalls in the education budget: the Proration Prevention Account, which works like a savings account, and the Rainy Day account, which the state can borrow from to avoid proration.

“Voting yes does not raise taxes,” said Luke Hallmark, the Marengo County Schools Superintendent. “It only repeals the flaw in the 2002 amendment that capped the amount of money that could be temporarily transferred to education from the Alabama Trust Fund at 6 percent of the Fiscal Year 2002 Education Trust Fund Budget.

The proposed amendment changes the wording to 6.5 percent of the previous year’s adopted Education Trust Fund budget.”

The Proration Prevention is funded with tax revenues. The Rainy Day account gives the state the power to borrow from the $3.2 billion Alabama Trust Fund, funded by the sales of drilling rights and oil and gas leases. The state emptied the $440 million Proration Prevention account to cover revenue shortfalls last year.

The Rainy Day fund was created in 2002, but a cap of $248 million was placed on it at that time. If passed, Amendment 1 will raise that cap in the face expected revenue shortfalls and allow the state to borrow up to $437 million.

“Voting yes helps all education (K-12, post secondary, and higher education) and it also creates a rainy day fund for the general fund so that vital state services in public health, human resources, Medicaid and mental health will not be cut drastically in one year,” Halmark said.