Yes or no? No right answer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 23, 2012

State elected officials are beginning to talk up Alabama’s special election set for Sept. 18.

On that Tuesday, voters will be asked just one dull question, a question not likely to draw many voters to the poll and thus more likely to be approved.

That question is whether to approve a constitutional amendment OK’ing the transfer of as much as $198.9 million from the Alabama Trust Fund to the state General Fund.

It’s a critical question for state agencies like Medicaid, which would likely collapse and land the state in federal court for non-compliance without the infusion of borrowed cash from the state trust fund. A similar situation exists in the state prison system. Without more cash, the state will either be in court for prison overcrowding, or orchestrating a mass release of criminals.

And while none of us want less health care for the indigent or early release for hardened criminals, we’d be taking the same stand as our elected officials did if we said “no,” and refused to take steps to save the general fund. The governor and legislature sternly said, “No new taxes, no new fees.” Instead, they offered up a bandage to stop the bleeding.

And that bandage really makes the problem worse, because interest from the oil and gas revenues in the trust fund goes to the General Fund.

With no other option available, voting no could mean dire consequences. Saying yes just puts off tough decisions for elected officials.