Recently, the governor warned state employees that if the amendment fails, the budget cuts that will follow will mean lost jobs — and that their families and their friends should vote yes because “your job may depend on it.”
A scare tactic? Possibly. But it is also a fact.
If it passes, the amendment would authorize the state to withdraw money from the Alabama Trust Fund and use it to fill the holes in the General Fund. If the amendment fails, state employees are one of the many groups — nursing-home providers, public-safety agencies and others — who are likely to see their funding cut. Jobs could be lost.
However, the irony here has not become apparent to many, because even if this stopgap measure passes, state jobs will still be in jeopardy.
Consider this: When the Republican-dominated state Legislature passed this unrealistic budget, many argued that there would be enough money to cover essential services because budget cuts in other areas will free up revenue and allow the state to meet its obligations.
In other words, they argued that when Republicans get state spending under control and force the state to live within its means, there will be plenty of money to go around.
So far, those budget cuts have not come. And, as the budget the GOP is trying to save reveals, Republicans can allocate beyond our means just as readily as the Democratic-controlled Legislatures they denounced.
Since the governor and his Republican supporters have made it clear that there will be no new taxes — even though there are responsible tax proposals on the table — the fact is that the constitutional amendment may save state jobs over the next three years. But if the budget-cutters have their way when it comes to balancing the budget when the borrowed money runs out — not to mention paying it back — state jobs will again be on the block.
Thus, to tell state employees that they should vote for the amendment to save their jobs is somewhat misleading. Yes, their jobs are protected if the amendment passes. But the only way for state employees to protect those jobs long-term is to elect legislators who will find a way to balance the budget without decimating state services.
Doing that, it seems, is what the current Legislature is hoping to avoid.