Where I Stand 2008: State Ballot Questions

This is a continuing series of candidate and issue endorsements for the 2008 election cycle.

Constitutional Amendment A

This amendment proposes to clarify the order of succession when a governorship is vacated for any reason including appointment to another office, resignation or untimely death. It seems straightforward enough, but if it hasn't been a big problem in over a hundred years, why the need to clarify it now? Since undoing changes to the state Constitution takes a lot of effort, I'm in favor of voting NO on this proposal until there is better reasoning as to why it should be put in place.

Constitutional Amendment B

This amendment proposes to widen the funding sources that can fund a state trust fund established in 2001. This fund's original purpose was to allow money from the tobacco settlement and monies bequeathed to the state via wills and trusts to sit in an interest-bearing account to remain untouched unless 3/4 of the legislature and the governor agree to spend its funds. A primary concern regarding allowing money to flow in from anywhere is that it becomes difficult to get out, but I really like the idea of growing an interest-bearing account that adds to state coffers. (I'm sure it's wishful thinking, but what if such a fund grew enough to allow funding a significant portion of state funding needs?) I say let's approve of wise savings with a YES vote.

Constitutional Amendment C

The legislature often gets a lot of flak for starting their work on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. This amendment seeks to move the legislative session to start a week later and, just for kicks, exclude any federal holidays from the 45-day limit. (Currently, this only includes President's Day.) Given that the yearly bickering over the start date of the legislative session only starts off things on a sour note, I don't see any problem with voting YES on this move as it has a minimal impact on much of anything else. The move to exclude federal holidays will also ensure that such disagreements don't necessitate another change in the future.

Constitutional Amendment D

When called into a special session, the legislature often has a very short period of time to work on a few absolutely critical issues. Unfortunately, redistricting gets shoved onto their plates should a special session occur after they get data from the US Census. This amendment will fix that by specifying that redistricting should occur at the next general session instead. I say YES to this amendment so that we don't bog down special sessions and get hasty decisions on redistricting.

Constitutional Amendment E

In the original constitution, the state was prohibited from making investments in stocks and bonds of private companies. In 2005, this prohibition was amended to allow higher education to invest in a private company in exchange for intellectual property rights. This change made sense as a part of the USTAR initiative. Now, however, the state is looking to expand that to allow money from public land sales and the state school trust to be invested in private companies. I don't think the state needs to become a brokerage house or pick the winners and losers in the market, so I'm voting NO on this amendment.

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2 Responses

  1. Natalie says:

    I think you’ve missed the point on amendment E. The real question is should the Permanent School Fund, the corpus of our public school trust, be managed as an endowment? Currently, the state Retirement Fund and the University Endowment Funds are all managed as an endowment – allowing private equity. If the Permanent School Fund can be managed this way, it will increase the return, and increase the amount that can be distributed to our schools. This amendment passed both houses of the legislature unanimously, is supported by the State Treasurer, Investment Advisory Board and the education community.

  2. Pace Hector says:

    And, by law, the investment of the Fund cannot be done on any basis other than the best interests of the school kids. So the state won’t be picking winners and losers. This would be an effect of allowing them to put a small percentage of the fund in private equity or venture capital funds of funds, through a Vanguard index approach kind of thing.

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