While speaking at the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s summer conference, Gov. Ivey touted infrastructure and education as two critical areas that Alabama must address.
When speaking of what must be done about Alabama’s aging infrastructure, Gov. Ivey said,
“Just as pre-K is a solid foundation for our children, a robust infrastructure is foundational for all that we do in economic development. . . Y’all know like I do that our state infrastructure is aging. Funds are not there to repair what needs fixing, much less to build new bridges, roads, much less airports and railways. In some places in our state, a school bus has to go at least 12 miles out of its way to avoid going over a dangerous bridge that won’t hold them up.”
Gov. Ivey isn’t the first to propose increased funding for infrastructure, and she pointed out that leaders cannot be content with just talking anymore. In her remarks, she made clear that the time to act is now, and this is an issue that supersedes political ideology.
“I share with you there may be times in your career that you will be called on to make a decision that might not be very popular, but you go ahead and make it anyway because it’s the right thing to do,” said Gov. Ivey.
Beyond just having safe roads and bridges, Ivey believes improved infrastructure is the cornerstone to providing Alabama with better-paying jobs. She remarked that improvements on what Alabama already has would allow the state to recruit 21st-century employers who are willing to invest in Alabama.
While confident that infrastructure is a critical piece of the economic puzzle, Ivey realizes it is not the only piece. At the conference she also made clear that education must be placed at the forefront of any strategy to improve Alabama, stating:
“How well a child reads by the third grade is directly related to how well that child will do later in life. . . In fact, a student that is not reading at a third-grade level at the end of the third grade is four times less likely to graduate. And we know that high school dropouts are likely to go to prison. In fact, statistics related to reading proficiency in the third grade are used to determine how many beds will be needed in Alabama prisons.”
Ivey, a former teacher, noted that students must be armed with the skills needed to enter the workplace. She cited the 4,000 Alabama computer-related jobs that sit vacant as proof of the need to teach children practical skills from a young age.
With education being an area for which she is very passionate, the Governor said,
“My goal is for every Alabamian who wants to have a job to have one- but not just any job. I want our people to be well-trained, qualified and well-paid for the jobs they have so they can better provide for themselves and their family and be productive members of the society.”
These remarks come just days after Gov. Ivey announced that she would launch a state wide education initiative.
A spokesperson from Gov. Ivey’s office said, “Education is the heartbeat of our society and Governor Ivey will be giving it the high priority that it deserves.”