In her first State of the State address since taking office in April, Gov. Kay Ivey delivered a glowing economic report and pledged to support rural Alabama.
“Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to report we have successfully steadied the ship of state,” said Ivey Tuesday night during a joint assembly of the Alabama Senate and House of Representatives. “I declare that the state of the state is strong and our future is as bright as the sun over the Gulf.”
Highlights of Ivey’s first 10 months in office include $3.5 billion in direct investments in the state, creating nearly 8,000 new jobs. Ivey also reported unemployment has fallen to 3.5 percent — the lowest rate ever recorded in Alabama.
“What we are doing is working, and as a result, the people of Alabama are working and providing for their families,” Ivey said.
During her speech, Ivey announced Kimber Firearms will build a $38 billion production facility in Troy, bringing 366 new jobs to the area. The following day, she joined representatives from Toyota and Mazda in unveiling plans for a $1.6 billion, 4,000-job plant in Limestone County.
As America enjoys an economic rebirth, Ivey pledged to ensure rural Alabama is not left behind.
“As many of you know, I am from Camden in rural Wilcox County. Rural communities, like Camden, have a very special place in my heart,” Ivey said. “I understand the challenges rural areas face, and it is my intention to do all I can to help make a difference in the lives of people in rural areas. Supporting rural Alabama is central to my legislative agenda.”
Ivey said she will strongly support legislation to encourage broadband investments in rural Alabama. She also proposed funding for loan repayment programs for dentists and physician assistants who agree to work in underserved areas of Alabama.
Other proposals in Ivey’s address included:
Pay raises for teachers and state employees;
Plans to address staffing issues in Alabama prisons;
Giving preference for veteran-owned businesses that bid on state contracts;
Increased funding for the First-Class Pre-K program; and
Formation of the Alabama School of Cyber and Engineering, based in Huntsville.
Ivey reported Alabama’s budgets are in good shape, with the state ranking 12th nationwide for financial strength. Still, she challenged legislators to be disciplined in their spending.
“Not a single appropriated dollar belongs to government; rather, it belongs to the hard-working men and women of Alabama who have earned it,” she said.
Ivey has submitted General Fund (GF) and Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget proposals to the Alabama Legislature to fund state government without raising taxes. Preliminary reports indicate the governor’s recommendations include appropriations for programs important to Alabama Farmers Federation members.
Quoting composer Johann Sebastian Bach, Ivey concluded her remarks by saying elected officials should examine their motivation for public service.
“Are we motivated by pride, power or greed? Or are we moved by an innate desire to make a difference in our state and world?,” Ivey said. “I say we can make our state better if our purpose is the same — to serve for the Glory of God and the good of mankind.”