Barnett plans for job creation in Senate seat

Published 10:22 pm Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ken Barnett said he has always lived within his means, which is why he believes he’d be an asset in state government when it comes to doing just that.

Barnett, a 17-year-employee with the Alabama Department of Finance, is a contender for the Senate District 30 seat, facing Republicans Bryan Taylor and Ray Boles in the June 1 primary. The victor of that spot will face Democrat incumbent Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne for the role.

Barnett said there are several things he’d like to see addressed in the state, but among the most important is job creation.

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“To reduce spending, do away with special interests, reform education, reform health care and at the top of the list create jobs,” Barnett said of his plans for office.

And, as listed in Barnett’s job creation plan, he believes all these issues are intertwined.

Barnett said the first step to job creation is to eliminate fighting within the Senate and work together in a “spirit of cooperation.”

That’s from the issues with gambling to funding special interest projects, he said.

Barnett said he is pleased the electronic bingo bill didn’t pass through the Legislature, and he believes there was corruption involved in it.

“I’m against it, and it should be out of here,” he said.

But, Barnett said if the issue was brought to a vote and became law, he would respect that decision.

Barnett said also in his job creation plan that the state should work to reform health care on a local level, passing a constitutional amendment saying a person is not required to purchase health insurance. He said energy costs should be kept low to encourage growth, and he also said a task force should be created to recruit jobs in the state.

One of the biggest education issues from the last Legislative session was charter schools. He said he likes the idea of charter schools, but he wants to know more about them before agreeing to their implementation.

“I want to see how many strings are attached to the federal government,” he said.

“I’m for charter schools because they are good for competition.”

With the Alabama Education and General Fund budgets facing hard times in the last few years, projections are the outlook could be even more grim next year. But, Barnett said he believes cutting out special interests could “easily” bring the Education budget down 18 percent and balance it.

“It’s just like at my house, when things are tough, you look at your budget and cut back on wasteful spending,” he said.

A bill to remove taxes on groceries and prescription drugs has been a key issue in the Legislature for the last several years. If that bill makes it back to the Legislature again, Barnett said he isn’t sure how he’d vote.

“I’m for lowing taxes, that would be great,” he said. “What wouldn’t be great is to put them on one group of people just because they make more money than me.”

Barnett lives in Prattville with his wife of 42 years, and he has nine children and 22 grandchildren.

He said he believes his experience as a family man, former business owner and finance department employee makes him more qualified than his Republican opponents.