State official makes case for amendment ‘yes’ vote

Published 7:10 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Finance director for the state of Alabama, Marquita Davis, explains the Sept. 18 referendum with representatives from PowerSouth and Pioneer Electric at the Convention Center Wednesday. -- Sarah Cook

Representatives from PowerSouth Energy Cooperative and Pioneer Electric gathered in the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center Monday morning to share a breakfast and listen to guest speaker Marquita Davis, finance director for the state of Alabama.

This was part of a series of community leader events throughout the service area of PowerSouth and Pioneer Electric, which includes Dallas, Lowndes, Wilcox and Butler Counties along with several other locations.

“It’s kind of a way for us to say thank you to the people who make a difference in the quality of life in the area that we serve,” said Horace Horn, vice president of external affairs for PowerSouth.

Email newsletter signup

Davis spoke with guests primarily about the Sept. 18 referendum vote, which proposes millions of dollars to be transferred from a trust fund to the General Fund.

Spending from the General Fund include Medicaid, prisons and other non-education services.

“We would go in to the ATF [Alabama Trust Fund] and borrow $145.7 million over three years and put that in the General Fund,” Davis said, and added that this solution was proposed after exhausting several other options. “This isn’t a perfect solution, by any stretch of the imagination,” she said.

To explain the referendum in simple terms, Davis used an analogy of a homeowner receiving an unexpected bill for $100, but having no money to pay for it.

“But you have $500 in your savings and the bill is due,” Davis said. “What do you do? Do you say I’m not going to use this money from my savings and they’ll have to call the creditors on me? Or do you go into that savings and use that money to pay your bill? That’s what the state is doing. That’s what we’re proposing to do.”

She added that the state is simply borrowing from their savings account.

“This isn’t money we’re borrowing from someone else,” Davis said. “We are borrowing this money from ourselves. We’re taking money from the Alabama Trust Fund, our own revenues, and using it to shore up the General Fund.”

Davis also discussed the idea of possibly streamlining state government in the future, since Alabama is one of the few states that still has two budgets.

“If we’re not going to raise taxes or increase fees, then we have to be prepared to cut,” Davis said. “And cutting state government won’t be pretty, but it may be necessary.”

Representatives will be meeting again in a similar event Thursday in Montgomery.