VOTE YES ON AMENDMENT ONE HERE'S WHY!
Our state and our nation face a major economic challenge over the next several years. The consequences of this challenge are filtering down to the university and UAHuntsville is aggressively developing ways to address it while maintaining the focus on our primary mission, providing a top quality education to our students at a reasonable cost.
We are facing this challenge. We will deal with it. We will emerge from it stronger and more focused than ever. It is a serious challenge. However, be assured that the world is not ending, the sky is not falling and we will wake up to another bright day tomorrow. As we move forward over the next several years it is important that we remain focused on our priorities, namely the Power of 10, and not be sidetracked by fear of uncertainty.
Education in Alabama must deal with our funding challenge. The prospect looms for more budget reductions in the current fiscal year as a result of declining sales and income tax collections. The long term challenge hinges on a turnaround in the national economy. There are positive steps we can take today and in the upcoming year to address both short term and long term funding shortages.
When you go to the polls on November 4, you will be asked to vote on Amendment 1, an amendment to the Alabama Constitution that will diminish or eliminate any further proration in the current fiscal year budget. Alabama currently has a constitutionally established ‘rainy day fund’ for education that was designed in 2002 to address budget shortfalls. The language in the 2002 constitutional amendment was “flawed” in that it placed a fixed cap on the rainy day fund based on 2002 appropriation levels. Amendment 1 basically changes the wording in the constitution to allow the rainy day fund cap to increase as the education budget grows over the years.
Think about it this way. Suppose in 2002 you had set aside enough money to purchase a full tank of gasoline for your automobile in case of an emergency. But an emergency did not occur until 2009. And when you pulled up to the pump in 2009 you discovered the amount of money you set aside in 2002 was not enough to purchase a full tank of gasoline now. That situation is analogous to what has happened to the education budget. We are faced with addressing a 2009 funding shortfall with a rainy day fund capped at a 2002 level.
We all feel the pain inflicted by the 11% budget reduction already received for the current fiscal year. If Amendment 1 fails on November 4, we very well could face an additional 3% to 6% proration for the current fiscal year 2008-2009 in addition to the 11% reduction already imposed on us. The impact of an additional proration would be very serious for UAHuntsville and all of education in Alabama.
It is essential that Amendment 1 be approved by Alabama’s voters on November 4. This issue has serious implications for education at all levels in Alabama, from pre-kindergarten through graduate school. We have an opportunity on November 4 to help education while creating NO new taxes or any new financial burden on the citizens of Alabama. And all funds transferred from the rainy day fund to prevent proration must be paid back in full to the rainy day fund within six years!
I strongly encourage you to vote YES on Amendment 1 and to communicate to your family, friends and neighbors how critically important a YES vote is to the future of Alabama and our children. Amendment 1 is the FIRST amendment on the ballot on November 4 and it will be on the BACK of the ballot. Don’t forget to turn your ballot over and vote for Amendment 1 on the back. Please do all that you can to support passage of the Rainy Day Amendment for Alabama.
VOTE YES ON AMENDMENT 1 ON NOVEMBER 4.
Thank you for your support.