State Sen. Rusty Glover responds to Alabama lieutenant governor candidate questionnaire
State Sen. Rusty Glover, a candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for lieutenant governor, recently responded to the questionnaire prepared by the Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News. His answers are below.
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY AND PRINCIPLES
Question: What is your political philosophy and, if elected, how would it shape the way you lead as lieutenant governor?
Glover: My political philosophy is for less government and less government intervention. I firmly believe that the least government is the best government. As Lt. Governor, I can influence legislation that will reflect a less government approach, one where the individual can flourish – free of the shackles of bureaucratic administration.
How have you demonstrated your commitment to your political philosophy?
I sponsored legislation against common core in 2015 and 2016. This year I sponsored, and passed, a resolution (SJR101) to have Alabama adopt Daylight Savings Time permanently, which would be of enormous benefit for businesses in the state. As early as 2010, I sponsored legislation to allow health care providers, health care institutions, and health care payers the authority to refuse to perform or to participate in health care services that violated their conscience.
In 2016, the American Conservative Union gave me the “Award for Conservative Achievement,” due to my conservative voting record. Many would like to hide behind their voting record – I proudly submit it to the people of Alabama for their review.
What should be the role of the lieutenant governor?
The role of the Lt. Governor is to act only within the express powers given to the office by the Constitution of the State of Alabama of 1905. All other powers must come from the consent of the People of the State of Alabama. The Constitution of Alabama directs the Lt. Governor to preside, to maintain order and dignity, in the Alabama Senate.
A Lt. Governor with integrity will conduct the office in a manner as to avoid the embarrassments, conflicts, and altercations that have occurred in previous sessions. On the Senate floor, the Lt. Governor can allow for efficient consideration and passage of legislation for the people of the State of Alabama. The Lt. Governor is also charged with overseeing travel, and other administrative functions of the Legislature – where I can continue to save the people of Alabama money.
What is the most challenging social issue facing families in Alabama? Does government have a role in helping to solve that problem, and if so, what would you propose?
I passionately believe that the breakup of the home – and children who are lacking guidance from parents – are the most pressing and challenging social issues facing Alabama families. Often the parents are not involved with the children’s education. I support Faith based initiatives – which are proven time and again to truly help families attain a better quality of life.
As someone who taught history in high school, I uniquely understand that, as a society, we need to get back to the basics of Alabama values – faith, family, and freedom. These are the ideas which are the foundation of our state, our people – and these are the values which can again best allow families to flourish.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, Alabama receives a D+ grade for integrity. When the state is in the national news, it is often because of a lack of ethical behavior by state officials or candidates. How would having you as Lieutenant Governor improve our state’s image nationally and, more generally, what suggestions do you have to ensure integrity throughout the state government?
As I stated in an earlier response, I believe that a Lt. Governor with integrity will conduct the office in a manner as to avoid the embarrassments, conflicts, and altercations of previous sessions. In the next session of the Legislature, Ethics Reform will come up. I want to be at the table to ensure that our Ethics laws are stronger.
I have a record of making stronger ethics laws a priority. In 2009, I sponsored and passed Senate Bill 274 that called for the manifest, destinations and any guests on the Governor’s airplane to be named and posted on the Governor’s website. As the only candidate in the race who has been in the Senate, I know the senate rules and I know how best to support ethics legislation that fosters transparency and clarity – and I also know how to best defeat the attempts to cut, water-down and harm ethics legislation.
As Lieutenant Governor, you will be responsible for appointing more than 400 people to state positions. How can Alabamians be sure that you will appoint qualified and experienced candidates and not simply supporters from current or previous electoral campaigns?
Alabama government can use all the transparency it can attain in every process. The integrity that I have exhibited in my years in the legislature will continue if I am elected Lt. Governor. As for appointees – I am fully committed to interviewing individuals for each position – selecting the best candidate based on credentials and qualifications.
To further transparency in the Lt. Governor’s office – I pledge and promise that my appointment calendar will be public information through the Lt. Governor’s website. This website will make my appointment calendar available to the public – and not just who I meet with, but also when I meet with them.
Alabama is ranked number forty-seven on U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best States for Education, and ranked number 1 in Pre-Kindergarten quality. As far as public education reforms, there have been many suggestions for improvement including increased investment in STEM education, distance learning, and reforming teacher tenure. What reforms would you propose or support to improve public education and prepare Alabama’s children for school success and lifelong learning?
I support streamlining a pipeline for high schools students to trade schools. It has been said that not all knowledge comes from college, but skill is always a matter of degree. The economy of tomorrow belongs to the skilled knowledge economy. Every child in Alabama should go through intensive STEM education. Smaller schools in rural areas deserve and need access to better courses, which can be delivered in a cost-effective manner through broadband technologies.
By encouraging a seamless transition between high school and community colleges, technical colleges and trade schools, while also supporting college and graduate degree retention, we can develop the kind of economic strength which will be the envy of the South. But this can only happen, if our K-12 schools are given the critical support they need in these trying times. Teachers and administrators need tools to improve discipline in schools.
For too long Montgomery elites, have not listened to the very ones who are charged with implementing reforms the legislature and government bureaucrats try to pass – and I should know, I was a teacher for 25 years. I will travel the state to hear from teachers and parents and administrators by hosting roundtables – and continue to gain insight for better legislation.
In 2015, Alabama became the 43rd state to approve legislation to authorize charter schools. Many states now allow parents to transfer their child from a failing public school to a non-failing public school, to utilize education savings accounts or school vouchers, or to send students to alternative schools using tax-credit scholarships, allowing parents greater control in their child’s educational endeavors. How should educational choice fit into Alabama’s education system?
We all want higher graduation rates, and the way to that is through public charter schools which allow at risk students a better chance – allowing students to learn and teachers to teach. As a former teacher for 25 years, I appreciate the way Mobile County has implemented a public charter school for at-risk students. The proof is there – better results in grades and graduation rate exists. We’ve seen great results from this because charter schools like the one in Mobile County can head off problems, before they become overwhelming in the student’s and community’s life.
In addition to these specific charter schools, signature academies in Enterprise, Troy, and Mobile are meeting great success for our young people. These signature academies are giving our young people the critical experience they need to succeed, and succeed earlier – while also advancing their academic preparation, streamlining pathways to the workforce and filling workforce gaps sooner.
In Alabama, the bottom 20% of earners pay 10% of their income in state and local taxes while the top 1% only pays 3.8% of their income in the same taxes. If elected, what would you propose be the future of the state income tax and do you see this disparity as a problem?
I am not for any tax reforms which would call for a raise in taxes to pay for another’s tax cut.
STATE AND LOCAL TAXES
According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, Alabama boasts the 12th most regressive state and local tax system in the nation. One contributor to this ranking is our combined 9% grocery tax (only four states tax groceries more than Alabama). In 2017, Governor Bentley proposed decreasing the grocery tax by 4%. If you are elected, would you suggest changes to the grocery tax?
If the grocery tax is reduced, our budget is immediately $507 million short. When you reduce the grocery tax, the Legislature must make it up somewhere else – the revenue must be there. Therefore, any reform I would support must show that taxes will not be raised on anyone or anywhere else to pay for this tax cut.
US News ranks Alabama’s roads and bridges as the 16th and 21st best in the country, respectively. Even so, every neighbor of ours—except Mississippi – has roads and bridges that rank in the top 10. Alabama also ranks 45th in terms of broadband access. If elected, what would you prioritize as the most important infrastructure investment projects, and what innovative options would you propose to fund such projects?
The knowledge economy, based in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, demands a digital infrastructure. We started with the broadband bill, which can ensure a better quality of service, which will in-turn attract businesses to Alabama – and especially those areas of rural Alabama which needs jobs the most.
I do support President Trump’s infrastructure plan. Limited government best sees itself limited to proper roles, one of which is infrastructure. There are monies which should be going to the Alabama Department of Transportation, yet these monies are often spent on other agency shortfalls. This needs to stop. Honesty and transparency demands that we use dollars for their intended purpose. Coupled with President Trump’s infrastructure plan for roads, bridges, and ports, Alabama can jump start an economic engine – the benefits of which could last for generations.
Most states resort to installing a state-run lottery to increase revenue and pay for government projects. Do you support a lottery to solve the state’s fiscal woes? Why or why not?
The Lt. Governor, nor Governor, have a vote for any voter-approved lottery per the Constitution of Alabama. Having said that, I am opposed to a lottery funding our government, which happens at the expense of our most vulnerable.
I’m from a district which borders Mississippi. I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of how gambling has left more problems for families and children in its wake. Not only do families suffer, but small businesses also suffer as consumers spend money with the government lottery instead of buying locally – hurting the very ones who desperately need to see improved economic gains and growth.
Alabama is currently the fourth most federally dependent state in the country. What do you think should be the federal government’s role in our state finances?
If Alabama wants to curb federal dependency, then we as its leaders must market Alabama – not to the special interests, but to those expanding businesses that recognize that our low taxes, willing workforce and right to work laws, create an environment of opportunity. Mercedes, Honda, and a host of other companies are helping us through better employment and higher returns on wages.
Of course, our position as a recipient state as opposed to a donor state from the federal government – puts us in an odd position, but I believe this can be overcome through better, smarter, and more effective economic expansion as more people work, and as we respond to the needs of a new economy.
THE RIGHT TO WORK
The Census Bureau suggests that Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee are creating more jobs than Alabama. As lieutenant governor, how would you foster job creation that rivals our neighbors to the north, east, and south?
As the Lt. Governor, while the legislature is in session, I will gladly work with the Governor on economic recruitment, streamlining government, and seeking opportunity. While not in session, I will work with the Governor to meet with industries to get jobs here, to Alabama. Attracting the best and brightest people and businesses to Alabama must be a cornerstone of the Lt. Governor’s office.
As a pro-business leader, I see what our quality of life and low taxes at offers to businesses. Better digital broadband and physical infrastructure, coupled with cutting government bureaucracy and paperwork, will make small businesses grow – the true greatness of Alabama’s economic engine.
ROLE OF LABOR
Alabama is a right-to-work state. In your opinion, what is the proper role of organized labor and should Alabama remain a right-to-work state?
I believe that Alabamians were wise to put in our constitution that we are a right to work state – which has allowed us to recruit and attract more businesses. We only need to look to other states that do not have such laws and see the difference in growth and opportunity.
OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING IN ALABAMA
The state of Alabama licenses 151 different occupations and over 20% of Alabama workers need a license to work. If elected, how would address these regulations—regulations that both the Obama and Trump administrations have regarded as problematic?
I think that we need to intensely examine all occupational taxes and regulations – to ensure that there exists a clear benefit to the consumer. For many of these licenses, the benefit isn’t so clear – either for the consumer or for the business. Those should be eliminated quickly as government bureaucracy often stands in the way of economic growth. I pledge to work toward the elimination of business licenses by 20% every single year I’m in office.
According to the CDC, Alabama is the state highest-prescribed with opioids, with more prescriptions than people. Opioids are the main driver of overdose deaths and, in 2016, 756 Alabamians died from drug overdoses. As lieutenant governor, how would you help the governor tackle Alabama’s share of this national crisis?
The Lt. Governor must work with district attorneys and listen to their suggestions. I call for a total state plan. The opioid crisis we are in is not just the governor’s problem, a local problem, or a family problem. It’s an Alabama problem. Let’s get back to the basics of faith, family, and freedom – I see economic development as part of the solution, as one of the surest ways to defeat drugs in life is a job.
Alabama has the third highest murder rate in the country. As lieutenant governor, how would you address crime and what policies, specifically, would you propose?
Closing the border to illegal immigration is part of the solution. But here again, we must work in concert with the district attorneys, the Attorney General, State Troopers and city police forces. In order to propose legislation that will help solve the problem we must listen to the very ones charged with enforcement.