Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on Wednesday signed the People's Trust Act, a bill that requires the full repayment of money transferred from the Alabama Trust Fund to the state's General Fund budget.
On September 18, 2012, Alabama voters approved the transfer of $437 million from the Alabama Trust Fund – a state savings account – to the General Fund over the next three years. The governor's office says the transfer was necessary to maintain essential state services during a difficult economic time without raising taxes.
Governor Bentley and legislative leaders pledged to voters that the money transferred from the Alabama Trust Fund would be repaid. The People's Trust Act (House Bill 94) is the first bill approved by both houses of the Legislature and signed by the Governor this year.
"We made a commitment to the voters that the Alabama Trust Fund would be repaid, and we are fulfilling that commitment," Governor Bentley said. "We are also working to find more savings and make government more efficient. Over the last two years, we have identified $750 million in savings. From that total, more than $528 million in savings have already been realized, and the rest of the savings will be realized in future years. Working with the Legislature, we will reach our goal of identifying a billion dollars in savings by the end of this term."
Governor Bentley was joined at Wednesday's signing by leaders from the Alabama Legislature, including sponsors of the repayment legislation.
"The Alabama Legislature and Governor Bentley are delivering on the trust that was conveyed by voters on September 18th," Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey said. "It's not coincidental that the first bill to pass the Legislature is to repay the money that will be transferred from the Trust Fund. I applaud Senator Bryan Taylor and Representative Jay Love for introducing these bills and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and House Speaker Mike Hubbard for giving these bills high priority during the first weeks of the 2013 Legislative Session."
"Republicans take our vows to the citizens of Alabama very seriously. We promised that we would repay the trust fund, and unlike decades past where Democrats made promises to taxpayers and then quickly swept them under the rug once the election was over, we kept our promise by passing this bill unanimously in the House," Speaker Hubbard said. "We prioritized our work to ensure that this was the first bill put before Governor Bentley, and we accomplished that goal."
"Before we asked voters to authorize borrowing money from the trust fund, we promised that anything borrowed would be repaid in full," Senator Marsh said. "This important legislation guarantees repayment and honors our commitment to voters. I appreciate the hard work of all senators who supported this legislation, particularly Senators Taylor, Allen, Bussman, Holtzclaw and Sanford."
The People's Trust Act was sponsored in the House by Representative Jay Love.
"As a small business owner, I understand that people judge you not just by your words, but also by your actions, and I am proud to sponsor a bill that keeps a public commitment made to the citizens of Alabama," Representative Love said.
"This bill sets up an automatic repayment and guarantees the money will be paid back on schedule," said Senator Bryan Taylor, who was among those who sponsored repayment legislation in the Senate. "This bill will control spending from the General Fund because the Legislature can't spend the money set aside each year for repayment. The money goes back to the people's trust fund."
The People's Trust Act requires full repayment of the Alabama Trust Fund by no later than September 30, 2026. The bill also provides for minimum cumulative amounts that must be repaid at the end of each fiscal year starting with the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014.
INFORMATION SOURCE: Governor Bentley's Press Office