Amendment 4 will be on your ballot on Tuesday, November 4. Proponents claim it will protect local school boards against unfunded mandates from the state legislature.
An unfunded mandate refers to an action that is mandated by a state (or federal) legislative body that requires expenditures of funds by another government entity but doesn’t actually provide funding for that expenditure.
Amendment 4, if approved by voters, will require the legislature to obtain a 2/3-majority vote whenever it passes a bill that requires a local board of education to spend more than $50,000 of local funds annually on whatever that bill is mandating be done.
For example, if a bill was introduced requiring each and every Alabama student to have access to $1,000 worth of technology, and no state funding was allocated for the purchase of that equipment (meaning local school boards would have to foot the total bill), the bill would have to be approved by 24 Senators and 71 members of the House. Currently, that bill would only need a simple majority (18 Senators and 53 members of the House) to pass.
Pay raises and anything to do with compensation for public school employees will continue be exempt from this mandate, meaning that if the legislature approves a pay raise for public school employees, ALL employees (whether state- or locally-funded) will receive the pay raise, even if the raise must be paid for with local funds.
Every legislator present in the House and Senate voted in favor of putting this amendment on the ballot. Remember that a “yes” vote by a legislator didn’t necessarily mean approval of the measure, only that they approved of putting it on the ballot to let the people of Alabama vote.
Ballotpedia posted a full page on Amendment 4 with factual information that is worth a look.
Ballotpedia also did an excellent job actually showing how Amendment 4 will be incorporated into Amendment 621 of the Alabama Constitution (which is what Amendment 4 is amending). Note that the only government entity not currently protected from unfunded mandates is the local school board.
Here’s what you’ll see on your ballot:
This article, from the Associated Press’ Phillip Rawls, sums up the discussion around Amendment 4.
Looking to non-partisan sources for a good analysis, I found these resources:
Here are some additional perspectives about Amendment 4:
Alabama Association of School Boards’ information about Amendment 4
AASB Executive Director Sally Howell on Amendment 4
Alabama PTA Supports Amendment 4
Wetumpka Tea Party’s Becky Gerritson’s video message on Amendment 4
Alabama Policy Institute’s analysis of Amendment 4
Alabama Political Reporter article on opposition to Amendment 4
Al.com coverage of perspective of school superintendents on Amendment 4
The Business Council of Alabama posted this on Amendment 4
The Anniston Star’s coverage of Amendment 4