By David Palmer
The Cullman Times
With the exception of a local amendment to hand over hundreds of acres of land to the Cullman County school system, few issues on the state ballot carry more weight than Amendment 2.
State lawmakers and Gov. Robert Bentley are widely behind Amendment 2 as a means of allowing the state to remain competitive in luring new industries and encouraging expansions of those already here.
“Amendment 2 will help attract more new jobs to Alabama. Passage of the amendment will allow the state to refinance bonds at lower interest rates, saving the state millions of dollars. In turn, that will free up funds to provide economic incentives for companies considering moving their facilities to Alabama — or expanding the facilities they already have in Alabama. The end result will be more new jobs,” said Gov. Bentley in a prepared statement concerning Tuesday’s vote.
The amendment simply provides the state more flexibility in issuing general obligation bonds for industrial incentives. The amendment raises the cap on bonds to $750 million and makes it easier for the state to refinance bond issues and gain savings from lower rates.
Local lawmakers — Reps. Mac Buttram and Jeremy Oden and state Sen. Paul Bussman — favor Amendment 2.
“We need this to remain competitive in economic development. It’s highly competitive among states and this would allow us to maintain our edge,” Bussman said.
Oden also noted that the amendment doesn’t allow the state to touch any new monies, but instead loosens the guidelines on issuing bonds.
“It almost triples what’s available for economic development incentives. I think this will help communities across the state a great deal in bringing new industries and encouraging more expansions,” Oden said.
Buttram also said the amendment carries tremendous importance for the state and areas such as Cullman that work hard to encourage job creation.
‰ David Palmer may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 213.