Alabama has had success in recent years luring major industries, including an Airbus assembly plant for Mobile, and securing expansions at its auto assembly plants. But the governor, who has vowed not to take a salary until unemployment drops to 5.2 percent, is still a long way from drawing a paycheck.
Amendment 4's sponsor, Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur, said he knows other states have used the racist language against Alabama when competing for industries.
"It's important symbolically to send a message to our sister states and to the world that Alabama is a different place than it was 50 years ago," he said.
Orr's proposal has drawn support from Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, Alabama's chief recruiter for new industry.
No black members of the Legislature voted for Orr's proposal last year when lawmakers decided to put it on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Sanders and Joe Reed, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, said no one pays attention to the school segregation and poll tax language because it has been effectively dead for a half-century. They said removing it is not worth the cost of restating that there is no right to a public education.
As Election Day neared, opponents of Amendment 4 were joined by the Alabama Education Association, the influential state teachers' organization. AEA has seen funding for public education drop by more than $1 billion in the past five years, teaching positions cut, class sizes increased, and some school revenue shifted to non-education functions of government. The teachers' group worries that if voters reiterate there is no right to a public education, a cash-strapped Legislature will move even more money away from public schools to other functions.
"It has all kinds of implications in the future for the diversion of education funds and for the funding of education generally. That's why we are opposed to it," AEA attorney Bobby Segall said.