Gov. Ivey gives her 2-cents

Published 9:47 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2022

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said the past four years, the state had put its money where its mouth is.

Ivey gave her annual State of the State Address on Tuesday night and said the future looked bright and the state had overcome some tough challenges in the past four years.

“So often, we hear people – who likely have not even stepped foot in Alabama – give their two cents on us. Well, let me offer mine.”

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In her opening remarks, Ivey noted the state had addressed federal lawsuits regarding the state’s prison system as well as how money from the Rebuild Alabama Act had been spent. Ivey went on to note four major infrastructure projects that are currently underway – the West Alabama Corridor from Mobile to Tuscaloosa; six-laning Interstate 10 from Theodore to Irving; widening Interstate 59 from four to six lanes near Trussville and improvements to Alabama’s only deepwater port in Mobile.

Ivey said those successes had given the state a lot of momentum and her agenda for the year included building on that momentum.

Ivey challenged the Legislature to quickly address the allocation of federal funding from the CARES Act. Ivey asked the Legislature to put the money to use and “meet some of Alabama’s biggest challenges like statewide broadband connectivity, water and sewer infrastructure, as well as investing funds in our hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers.”

According to political analyst Steve Flowers, House and Senate leaders are meeting with Ivey to discuss calling a special session inside of the regular session to deal with allocating the CARES Act money. Flowers said if the special session is called, it will most likely be early in the session before the Legislature deals with the state budgets.

Ivey said as part of her budget proposal, she included a 4 percent pay raise for state employees and a bonus for all retired state employees.

Ivey said she was also proposing more funding for after school programs and grants for failing elementary schools. However, Ivey said those grants would be customized to meet the needs of the failing school.

“Folks, let me be clear,” Ivey said. “Money isn’t going to fix our problems in education.”

Ivey said it would be necessary to make “meaningful changes” to the state’s education system.

She said the state needed to find new ways to address old problems in education to make sure all elementary schools are successful. She said the state needed to recruit and retain good teachers, expand funding to math and science teachers as well as provide resources for autism therapy and school-based mental health care.

The Legislature gaveled in on Tuesday and has until April 25 to conclude business for the cur-rent session. The session begins and ends earlier in 2022 because of the election cycle.