Government Bytes


On the Alabama Ballot: Debt for Business Deal, “Obamacare”Mandate, Secret Union Ballot and More

by Lee Schalk / /

Alabamians have one of the most robust ballot slates in the nation at their fingertips this fall. Eleven proposed amendments to the Alabama Constitution will be on the statewide ballot and still more will appear at the county and local levels.

The diverse set of ballot initiatives in Alabama will put tax dollars and issues about the size of government to the electoral test. Those concerned with fiscal responsibility will keep a keen eye on debt and legislator salary measures, while the national political scene is sure to take note of Alabama’s verdict on the health care law’s ‘individual mandate.’

Should Alabama issue more debt for business development? Amendment 2 would allow for a $750 million debt increase as part of a plan to lure businesses to Alabama.  This program was used recently to give Airbus $153 million in taxpayer-funded incentives. However, recently the state experienced fiscal difficulties, which resulted in the approval of an amendment to take $437.4 million out of the state’s reserve fund to patch a budget shortfall.

Additionally, the individual mandate from the President’s Affordable Care Act could be spurned. Alabama voters will have an opportunity to weigh in on this controversial issue when they vote on proposed Amendment 6.  Because of the Supreme Court ruling and the “supremacy clause,” which gives the federal government more power than state government, this measure represents a symbolic gesture, but if passed, it could send a clear message to the federal government.

What about secret ballots in union elections? Amendment 7 would give workers the right to use secret ballots in union elections, ensuring that neither union officials nor employers know an individual’s vote. According to the Alabama Policy Institute, this measure could help workers protect themselves from threat or coercion from unions.

Will state legislator pay be limited? Amendment 8 would set a legislator’s base pay at the State’s median household income and ensure that compensation paid to legislators, who work no more than 105 days per year, does not increase during term of office. If approved, the average legislator’s salary would be reduced from $53,388 to $45,980.  Many Alabamians were troubled by the 61 percent pay increase that legislators granted themselves in 2007.

Stay tuned for more on the major state ballot initiatives this election season, and visit our 2012 Ballot Guide page HERE to find your state’s complete slate of propositions, questions, amendments and more.