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It’s back to polls Sept. 18

Morgan County voters will go back to the polls Tues., Sept. 18, to decide the fate of a proposed constitutional amendment, which would take $437 million from the Alabama Trust Fund over the next three years to offset projected revenue shortages in the State’s General Fund.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If approved, the amendment would contribute about $145.8 million to the proposed $1.67 billion General Fund budget for fiscal 2012-2013.

Proponents say non-education state agencies such as Medicaid and Corrections need the money to keep revenues in line with projected budget expenditures, which were approved by the State Legislature last May. Without the money, these agencies could face budget cuts of as much as 15 per cent in the coming fiscal year, according to Governor Robert Bentley.

The Trust Fund was established with voter approved in 1985 to capture revenues from sales of offshore drilling rights and from royalties on oil and natural gas production. Currently, the fund has about $2.3 billion.

Opponents, while few in number, argue that the State Legislature failed to meet its constitutional obligation in May 2012 by not passing a balanced budget.

The amendment reads in part, “…to provide adequate funding for the State General Fund budget, to prevent the mass release of prisoners from Alabama prisons, and to protect critical health services to Alabama children, elderly and mothers by transferring funds…”