Fair weather predicted for state’s future economy

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard was the guest speaker at the Troy Rotary Club Tuesday and predicted fair weather for Alabama’s future economic climate.

He also predicted some “hair pulling and gnashing of teeth” as the Republican Legislature changes things.

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“But change is the right thing to do,” Hubbard said.

The Speaker of the House reviewed the last Legislative session and said that its focus was to provide incentives and stimulation for job growth and a climate for business success.

The Legislature passed “sweeping ethics reform” and budget reform to prevent over appropriation in an effort to eliminate the situations that resulted in proration one out of three years.

“We passed a tort reform bill that is pro business and puts us on a level playing field,” Hubbard said. “We passed tenure reform that includes due process. Tenure reform means that good teachers can keep their jobs and those who are not doing their jobs can be fired.”

Hubbard said that the federal government is incapable of getting its financial house in order but, over the past two years, the State of Alabama has cut $730 million out of its budget and has a goal of cutting $2 billion without cutting services to its citizens.

“Our taxpayers deserve as strong an economy as possible,” he said and predicted a continuing improved economy because Alabama is business friendly, has low taxes and is a right to work state.

Hubbard said that when Airbus, a leading aircraft manufacturer, announced plans to locate the company’s first U.S.-based production facility in Mobile, the news rocked the world.

“‘Why Alabama?’ people wanted to know,” Hubbard said. “Why? Because of the work ethic here. Because of the cost of living, the right to work. Toyota, Hyundai. Those are the types of companies that Alabama is attracting.”

Hubbard said the Legislature also passed a Red Tape Reduction Act that will reduce the amount of state and federal mandates that inhibit business growth.

He said the Legislature is committed to streamlining state government to make it more efficient.

Hubbard takes obvious satisfaction in that the promise to repay the Education Trust Fund for the monies that were borrowed to shore up the general fund was upheld.

On a less positive note, Hubbard said Alabama must remove the stigma that all students must attend college.

“Alabama has a high school dropout rate of 40 percent and that is unacceptable,” he said. “We must make career tech programs available in our high schools so that students who are not college bound can develop the skills needed to make a living.”