Voters may decide incentives

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 28, 2008

The issue: Voters could decide the outcome of Volkswagen’s plans to move to Alabama.

Our position: Voters should study the options carefully.

Volkswagen has announced its plans to pick a U.S. Site for an automobile plant. Alabama ranks as a top spot with Tennessee and Michigan for the plant, which will have 2,000 jobs.

Email newsletter signup

Unfortunately, the plant wouldn’t come to the Black Belt. The plant would likely land in north Alabama.

Yet, all of Alabama would benefit from Volkswagen’s presence in the state.

The state will offer some sort of incentive package. Printed reports have the total going up as high as $200 million to get the German automobile manufacturer here.

In a couple of weeks, Volkswagen will announce the location.

If Alabama receives the nod, it’s almost certain the Legislature will go into special session to consider an incentive package.

That package probably would contain a constitutional amendment to provide funds for the incentives, meaning voters would decide in November when they vote for a president.

Voters should pay close attention to this.

State Treasurer Kay Ivey, who oversees the Alabama Trust Fund, wants the state to look at a long-term approach to providing money.

In an Associated Press report, Ivey said, “I can’t go along with every time we have an opportunity, we have a knee-jerk reaction.”

She has a point.

Voters approved by 80 percent a constitutional amendment expanding the state’s bond capacity to recruit industry. The expansion is nearly spent with recruitment of ThyssenKrupp near Mobile and the National Industries rail car plant near Tuscumbia and lesser projects.

It’s nice to consider the possibilities, but voters here should not become carried away before Volkswagen makes its choice.

If Alabama wins, voters need to consider all sides before deciding the best course to follow.