Ivey calls special session on Rebuild Alabama infrastructure bill — ‘Dire need to act now’
After her State of the State address Tuesday evening, both chambers of the Alabama legislature adjourned until March 19. Ivey minutes later delivered a proclamation calling them into a special session starting Wednesday.
The special session will also consider a separate bill dealing with the legislature’s Permanent Joint Transportation Committee to provide for more effective oversight of the Alabama Department of Transportation and transparency and accountability for the public.
Additionally, legislation to provide the Alabama Highway Finance Corporation with authority to borrow money and issue bonds for the purpose of improving the Alabama State Docks and the Mobile Bay ship channel will be on the agenda.
In a statement, Ivey said, “It’s time to make our crumbling infrastructure system a problem of the past.”
She stated, “Due to the dire need to act now, I am [calling] the Alabama Legislature into a special session, focused solely on passing this critical infrastructure legislation. Beginning tomorrow, as we enter this special session, we must shift our focus and tackle this issue together! It’s time to make our crumbling infrastructure system a problem of the past.”
A special session will allow legislators to consider only the issues presented to them in the governor’s proclamation.
In Ivey’s State of the State, she expanded more on the infrastructure needs of the state and why it was so urgent to address the problem now.
Excerpt from her address as follows:
I graduated from high school in a class that had 35 students. My surroundings at Auburn University would look a whole lot different, though. Instead of a class of 35, I would be one in a college of more than 12,000. My Wilcox County upbringing would be put side by side with some of the smartest young people from bigger schools in larger cities.
However, I would not allow these challenges to hinder me from achieving success.
So, in the summer before my first semester, I spent a week on campus to walk the grounds to know exactly where my classes would be located and try out for the Auburn University Marching Band.
Benjamin Franklin said it best, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”I worked hard and planned for success.
My journey from Wilcox County also brought me to where I stand this evening. Despite the heavy challenges that lie ahead, we in Alabama must plan for success.
Part of planning for that success is ensuring that we have a robust economy and ample public safety. We can help tackle both of these issues with a reasonable increase in the investment we make in our state’sinfrastructure system.
Almost three decades have gone by, and Alabama has not made one change to our infrastructure funding. While our neighboring states are increasing their revenue for their transportation budgets, Alabama has not. We are dead last.
Certainly, motorists are experiencing firsthand the poor conditions of Alabama’s infrastructure.
Each year in Alabama, 69 billion miles are driven on our roadways.
We have urban roads in poor condition. Our drivers are experiencing major congestion on our freeways. County governments currently operate on a 56-year resurfacing schedule; when, in fact, we should be operating on a 15-year rate.
In Alabama, half of our more than 16,000 bridges are older than their 50-year life span.
Bridges should be replaced every 50 years. Yet, county governments are on schedule to replace their bridgesevery 186 years! Folks, that’s almost as long as Alabama has been a state.
From 2015 to 2017, Alabama saw nearly 3,000 traffic fatalities. One-third of those were due to deficiencies in our roadways.
Each year, $436 billion dollars in goods are shipped to and from businesses using our state’s roadways.
The Port of Mobile, Alabama’s only deep-water port, moves approximately 64 million tons of cargo each year. Deepening and widening the Port will increase Alabama’s economic capability. This will enhance our status asa primary industrial and agricultural hub in the Southeast.
Driving on rough roads costs the average Alabamian $507 dollars annually in additional vehicle maintenance –a total of $2 billion dollars statewide, each year!
That is why we are proposing a 10-cent increase in Alabama’s fuel tax. This increase would be implemented over the next three years.
And I want to be crystal clear – this money will be scrutinized and watched over – every single penny. There will be strong accountability measures to make certain these monies are spent solely on transportation infrastructure. Period.
Leading the charge in the Legislature on this issue is Representative Bill Poole. He along with Senator Clyde Chambliss, will guide this legislation over the coming weeks. I thank both of them for their leadership.
Additionally, I have listened to leaders make good points about money being diverted from the Alabama Department of Transportation to supplement our court system and law enforcement agency every year.
I believe we should begin to unwind this outdated approach. And, in fact, the budgets I am presenting will cut this annual transfer in half without hurting the court system or our hardworking state law enforcement officers.
A renewed investment in infrastructure will lead to safer roads, economic prosperity and an enhanced quality of life.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am willing to call you, the members of the Alabama Legislature, into a special session, if necessary, to focus solely on passing this critical legislation.
It’s time to make our crumbling infrastructure system a problem of the past.
This is a challenge that is felt by every Alabamian, clearly making it a bipartisan issue.
As governor, I say enough is enough. Now is the time to Rebuild Alabama.
The House will reconvene for the special session at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn