Alabama voters turned down a proposed constitutional amendment on Tuesday to spend $1 billion over a decade to pay for road construction projects.
About 57% voted against Amendment Three in the Nov. 2 election. If voters had approved the amendment, which was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Lowell Barron, up to $100 million a year would have been transferred from the Alabama Trust Fund and earmarked specifically for road construction. The transfers would have taken place annually through fiscal 2020.
In the days leading up to the vote, Dr. Keith Malone, an economist at the University of North Alabama, released a study that showed the amendment would have an economic impact of $2.2 billion over 10 years and create 9,731 new jobs.
The proposal was strongly opposed by Dr. David Bronner, CEO of The Retirement Systems of Alabama.
Billy Norrell, executive director of the Alabama Road Builders Association, spoke in support of the proposal prior to the election.
“This will help the smallest contractor to the largest contractor,” Norrell said. “It’s a perfect dovetail with the (federal) stimulus plan. It allows you to continue what little momentum you had to keep people employed and to keep machines running.”
The amendment was also supported by the Alabama Construction Recruitment Institute, Alabama Farmers Federation, the Business Council of Alabama, the Alabama Railway Association, Alabama Utility Contractors Association and Vulcan Materials Co.
The Alabama Trust Fund gets royalties from natural gas wells drilled in state owned waters along the Alabama coast and typically receives more than $100 million annually. The annual withdrawals allowed under Amendment 3 would end if the fund drops below $2 billion. The fund currently has about $2.5 billion.
The amendment would have allotted $5 million for each of the state’s congressional districts for specific projects, such as Alabama State Port Authority improvements in Mobile, a study for an Interstate 10 connector to Dothan, Base Realignment and Closure work in the Phenix City-Ft. Benning, Ga., area, projects related to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville and an annual appropriation for mass transit in the Birmingham/Jefferson County area.