One-time tax rebates of $400 or $800 for working families proposed.
Special session called.
A “game plan” for Alabama’s economy laid out.
Gov. Kay Ivey addressed all that and more in Tuesday’s State of the State address.
With a strong emphasis on improving education, Ivey related nearly all topics she touched on to “the power of strong families.”
In her 30-minute speech, she rolled out major announcements that will guide the format and tone of the 2023 legislative session.
With the General Fund and education trust fund in surplus, Ivey said the state is experiencing the best financial standpoint in modern history.
“Alabama’s budgets are strong,” she said. “Folks, that is not by chance. That is because, together, we have taken a fiscally conservative approach to budgeting.”
On top of that, the governor said Alabama can make even further gains by spending $1 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds in a “prudent and wise” way.
“This evening, I am calling a special session of the Alabama Legislature to begin tomorrow so that we can urgently address these endeavors,” she said. “Let’s wisely invest these federal monies to overcome some of our biggest challenges, while also paying off our debts.”
Among the broad range of priorities she laid out for improving education included investment toward reading and math, a 2% pay increase for teachers, doubling funding for computer science, and a reinvigorated focus on charter schools and school choice legislation.
“It’s important we continue to have meaningful discussions on school choice,” Ivey said. “That must begin with improving the school choice we already have: Our charter school options and the Alabama Accountability Act.”
She took the opportunity to say measures being proposed around the well-being and future of Alabama’s students that is put at risk by the rising toll of Fentanyl-related crime and sweeping the nation.
“That is why I am instructing ALEA to make combatting this drug the top priority of our Alabama Drug Task Force,” Ivey said. “Tonight, I am also urging you, our legislators, to pass House Bill One so I can sign it into law as soon as possible.
“By doing this, we will put any traffickers of this deadly drug behind bars – and keep them there.”
When it comes to renewing and expanding the Alabama Jobs Act and the Growing Alabama Act, she pointed to the scoreboard since taking office.
“Since I’ve been governor more than $42 billion have been invested in our state, which has created some 78,000 new jobs,” Ivey said. “For most of those, we can thank the Alabama Jobs Act.”
In a fitting reference to her invited guest, Terry Saban, and the debut of an economic agenda lawmakers will begin tackling immediately, Ivey called it “The Game Plan,” a playbook for economic success. Most notably, she underscored the need for “shovel-ready sites,” recruitment of high-tech industry, and sparking growth in rural areas through investment.
A number of times, she pointed to the theme of “promises made, promises kept.”
“Since inauguration, we’ve hit the ground running,” Ivey said. “We are working hard to improve life for our Alabama families.”
Her speech of a “thriving” Alabama will chart the course in the coming months for a busy, high-impact legislative session.
Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. Follow him on Twitter @Grayson270 for coverage of the 2023 Legislative Session.