Lt. Gov. Ainsworth details accomplishments & future goals in Troy

Published 1:37 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

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Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth spoke at the Republic Women of Pike County’s meeting in Troy on Feb. 23 about the accomplishments the state has reached over the past four years and some future goals he has.

Ainsworth said that being the country’s most military friendly state was goal No. 1.

“When I came in (to office), our goal was simple; we want to be the most veteran and military friendly state in the country,” Ainsworth said. “We looked at everything and Maxwell (Air Force Base), the base in Montgomery, was fourth from the bottom in the country and if we had another base realignment – which we will at some point – it was potentially going to get cut.

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“We looked at it, and other bases, and thought about what bills we could pass to get Maxwell off the chopping block and help us attain the goal of being the most military and veteran friendly state in the country. The last four years, we passed 22 bills, the first time in our state’s history that we’ve passed that many military bills and all of those bills came out of our office.”

One of those achievements includes license reciprocity, which Ainsworth said had been a big issue in years past in regards to military families.

“That means when a military family moves here can their spouse get a job in what they were trained in? Four years ago we were last in the country in that,” he said. “A lot of those bills we passed dealt with that. People can now get a job in what they were trained in, which is huge.”

In 2021 it was announced that U.S. Space Command would be moving to Alabama and Ainsworth said his office’s work had a lot to do with it.

“So much talk has been that President (Donald) Trump got it here or Richard Shelby brought it or Mo Brooks brought it but the reality is we got it on merit,” Ainsworth emphasized. “We got space command because we were only deficient in four areas and the next closest state was Colorado with 10 deficient areas. One area we won’t be deficient in anymore, when reevaluated, is license reciprocity. So, it will just be three areas.”

Ainsworth said that Alabama is ranked No. 2 in the country in how military veterans are treated and he wants Alabama to reach No. 1.

“Florida was No. 1 and the reason they were ahead of us is because they don’t have income tax,” he continued. “We’re looking at some legislation potentially where if you are a veteran, and live in Alabama, you don’t have to pay income tax.”

Ainsworth acknowledged that the state recently received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Department of Defense for being the No. 1 state in the country for military families and helping with education.

“I had a general come to me and he said, ‘My son has the potential to play Division I football but he transferred schools’ and they were going to make his kid sit out a year,” said Ainsworth. “A general gets moved to Montgomery and his kid has to sit out a year because he’s trying to do what’s best for their child. So, we passed a thing now where if you are in the military you have public school choice and we worked with the AHSAA, so there is no penalty for a transfer in that situation. Those are the type of issues we’re working on.”

Ainsworth said a new focus for the state is on cybersecurity.

“We have a cybersecurity package that we are working on that’s $35 million that establishes the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence in Alabama,” he said. “I was at Microsoft in September and they told me that the No. 1 industry that is going to grow is cybersecurity. We already have our flags planted with Aerospace and we have it planted with defense, now let’s lead the nation in cybersecurity.”

Ainsworth said the package would also be establishing programs at high schools throughout the state that can offer ROTC-like programs for cybersecurity. The state is also establishing a program to help get colleges funding for cybersecurity courses.

“We’re doing the Artemis Academic Alliance,” he continued. “This is a big opportunity for our colleges and universities, Troy is one o them, to be able to draw down federal money on the cyber(security) side to offer classes in cybersecurity. That’s something we’re pushing big.”

The Republic Women of Pike County meet next on March 22 at noon at the Troy Country Club.