Statewide amendment could save Alabama millions

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While the presidential and senate races are garnering the most attention in the state, a proposed statewide constitutional amendment may well be Alabamians’ one opportunity to assist in helping to fill the state’s budget gap.

Amendment 1 will appear on the ballot like this:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the legislature to provide a retirement program for district attorneys and circuit clerks of the state who are first elected or appointed on or after November 8, 2016. (Proposed by Act 2015-342)

While Secretary of State John Merrill condemned the wording of the amendment, which was drafted by the Fair Ballot Commission and does little to describe the intention of the legislation, the new law could save the state as much as $200 million over the next three decades.

Merrill said the language as it appears on the ballot gives the impression that a new system is being created when, in fact, it is simply making changes to the current system.

Currently, district attorneys and circuit clerks do not pay into the retirement benefits they receive. The new law would require new appointees to pay 8.5 percent of their annual salaries into the retirement fund and would raise the minimum age for retirement to 62.

“They’re going to get their money either way,” Merrill said. “It’s just a matter of if you want them to pay to get that money.”

The amendment has widespread support among state lawmakers, as well as the Alabama District Attorneys Association.

Shelby County residents will also be voting on an amendment which would legalize the sale of alcohol on Sundays after noon.

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