The Republican and Democratic primaries are both on Tuesday, May 24. The major-party nominees for governor, U.S. Senator, congress, secretary of state, judicial races, legislative races, county offices, and more will be chosen by voters. Voters are also being asked to vote on a proposed amendment to the Constitution of 1901.
But not everybody is happy with the amendment. Some say it goes too far and some say it doesn't go far enough when it comes to state parks and historical sites.
The amendment is an $85 million bond issue for improvements at Alabama state parks.
The wording on the ballot reads:
Shall the following Amendments to the Constitution of Alabama be adopted?”
PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO APPEAR ON THE BALLOT STATEWIDE STATEWIDE AMENDMENT 1
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, authorizing the issuance and sale of general obligation bonds of the State of Alabama of up to $85,000,000 for the purposes of the improvement, renovation, equipping, acquisition, provision, construction, and maintenance of Alabama state parks under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and public historical sites and public historical parks under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Historical Commission. (Proposed by Act 2021-326).
The bond issue bill, House Bill 565 was sponsored by Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) and cosponsored by House Republican Vice-Chair Wes Kitchens (R-Arab).
The Alabama Legislature enacted Act 2021-409 which would implement this constitutional amendment if it is approved by the voters. Act 2021-409 will provide for the organization and powers of the Alabama State Parks Enhancement Authority and provide the necessary framework prescribing how the bonds, authorized by Act 2021-326, are sold.
1. $80,000,000.00 shall be used to improve, renovate, equip, acquire, provide, construct and maintain state parks under the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
2. $5,000,000.00 shall be used to improve, renovate, equip, acquire, provide, construct and maintain public historical sites and public historical parks under the Alabama Historical Commission. The Alabama Historical Commission cannot use any part of the borrowed money at the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury, Alabama.
If the majority of the voters vote “yes” on Amendment 1, the State of Alabama can borrow $85,000,000.00 to benefit Alabama’s state parks, public historical sites and public historical parks.
If the majority of the voters vote “no” on Amendment 1, the State of Alabama cannot borrow $85,000,000.00 to benefit Alabama’s state parks, public historical sites and public historical parks.
The Alabama Parks Division of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is urging voters to vote yes on the amendment.
“Tomorrow, May 24th is the Primary election. The Alabama State Parks Amendment will be the only local or state amendment on the ballot statewide — so it will appear as Amendment 1 at the very end of the ballot after all candidates are listed. This amendment, if approved by those who vote in the upcoming primary, will provide a much-needed capital infusion to our Alabama State Parks System. We appreciate your "Yes" vote to address necessary park renovations and improvements that best serve the needs of our guests. The State Parks Amendment will help build a better future for Alabama State Parks and all Alabamians.
"Thanks to our friend Randy Owen of the legendary music band Alabama for supporting a "Yes" vote tomorrow.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is urging voters to vote yes on amendment one.
“It’s just real important that we all vote ‘Yes’ on that amendment on the ballot,” said Gov. Ivey. “We have so much natural beauty here, and it’s important that we offer our citizens and tourists the great opportunities to experience and enjoy them. With your support of the State Parks bond issue on May 24, we will soon have ribbon-cuttings on several renovated campgrounds, cabins and improved day-use areas in our 21 State Parks.”
Some conservatives object to borrowing $85 million when the state is awash in cash and could have simply paid for the parks improvements by appropriating the funds out of the $1.3 billion in surplus monies that were allocated through special appropriations.
The Alabama Policy Institute’s Justin Bogie wrote: “It is unfathomable that somewhere in the almost $11 billion in spending approved for 2023 or the $1.5 billion in supplemental funding for 2022 that the Alabama Legislature couldn’t find $85 million, less than 1% of next year’s budget, to dedicate towards state park projects. Instead, if approved by voters, the state will take on $85 million in new debt to finance the projects. But $85 million is just the start. The Alabama Legislative Services Agency estimates that debt service payments will be $6 million per year for the next 20 years, $120 million total. In other words, the state will pay an additional $35 million in interest costs to borrow the $85 million. Even if the projects are needed, why would the state take on new debt for what is the equivalent to a rounding error in the scale of an $11 billion budget, especially when Alabama’s government had more cash on hand than ever just a few months ago?”
The Libertarian Party of Alabama is also urging voters to vote no on Amendment One.
“We stand firm in opposition of the amendment not because we hate our state parks, but because we love our fellow Alabamians and their right to choose how and where their money is spent. 'It’s only twenty bucks!' proponents say. Perhaps–it’s a blank check for $85 MILLION you’re being asked to sign your children and grandchildren’s name to. Assuming their math is correct, to many of us, twenty bucks is nothing. To others twenty bucks is everything. We have all been affected by the crippling near double-digit inflation and record-high gas prices we face today.”
Confederate Heritage groups are urging voters to vote “No” on Amendment One because it expressly bars the Alabama Historical Commission from spending any of the money on the Confederate Memorial Park at Marbury.
Former Sons of Confederate Veterans Commandant Mike Williams wrote on social media, “The WOKE legislature wrote an amendment that they want YOU to pass for more MONEY to go towards state parks BUT they said "No money can be spent at the Equal Justice Center" Is that prejudiced? Well, that is what AMENDMENT One does to your southern Heritage, READ IT! VOTE NO!.”
· Editorial note – the Alabama Policy Institute owns the 1819 News, though the two nonprofit corporations have separate boards of directors.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.
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