Governor Ivey wants new prisons, better schools, teacher pay hikes

Governor Kay Ivey delivers her State of the State address on February 4, 2020.
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Montgomery (WSFA)-- MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Tuesday evening, Gov. Kay Ivey delilvered the 2020 State of the State address in the State Capitol.

Ivey reported in her speech that the “State of our State is strong and growing.” She spoke about the bipartisan meetings she’s held with the leadership of both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate, saying she knew the meetings would help them come up with solutions to everything from infrastructure funding to the state education system.

“Look, no one here will be shocked to learn that our two political parties don’t always see eye-to-eye,” she said. “But unlike what we’ve seen nationally, I knew that no one party has a monopoly on good ideas.”

Ivey said a prime example of working together is Rebuild Alabama.
“In recent weeks and months, we have announced the state’s portion of $122 million worth of road and bridge projects in more than 48 of Alabama’s 67 counties. And this is just six months after the new revenue began coming in,” she said.

Ivey talked about the challenges within Alabama’s criminal justice system, saying she feels a “sense of urgency” to address the issues. She said she is pleased to report that recruiting and retention efforts are improving the issue of understaffing.

“Over the past seven months, the Criminal Justice Study Group I appointed last year analyzed many of the crucial components necessary to address the needs to rehabilitate those within our prison system,” she said.

Ivey said she looks forward to working with the legislature and others on bills specifically designed to address some of the issues.
Ivey also said she asked Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn to spearhead efforts to build three new prisons, which will transition facilities from warehousing inmates to rehabilitating people. She said Alabama has no choice but to reinvent the corrections system by replacing outdated and unsafe facilities that pose a great risk to public safety.

“You’ve heard me say this before, this is an Alabama problem that must have an Alabama solution,” she said. “I look forward to working with each of you.”

Ivey then introduced Brandie McCain, who she said in one year completed the coursework for three logistics certificates at Ingram State, the only post-secondary institution in the country that exclusively serves the incarcerated population.

“Brandie worked with Ingram’s job placement team to locate a job where she could use her newly acquired skills. With their assistance, she landed a job at Wright Way Staffing in Fairfield, where she quickly moved up the ranks to become an office administrator and staff recruiter,” Ivey said. "In her new role as an employer, Brandie is giving back by looking to hire other qualified Ingram State graduates."

Ivey said a world-class workforce begins with a world-class education system, and the path leading to that starts with a solid foundation constructed during the first five years of life.

“My education budget that I am proposing will provide an additional $25 million to expand our nationally-recognized First Class Pre-K program,” she said. “This significant increase will expand the program by another 193 classrooms.”

Ivey also proposed a $1 billion public school and college authority for K-12 education, as well as for two- and four-year colleges and universities. She said the money will be distributed on a formula basis to allow for much-needed capital improvements across the state. Equally important, she said, this bond will not include any legislative earmarks for pet projects.

“It has been almost 14 years since Alabama made an investment of this size by providing direct help to our schools," Ivey said. "And whether it is for new construction, safety improvements or technology upgrades, this billion-dollar investment is coming at the right time and for the right reasons.”

Ivey also proposed a 3 percent pay raise for all teachers, from pre-K to community college.

Ivey introduced two more guests in the State Capitol, John Carroll and Carl Flemons. Carroll, Ivey said, was an unemployed Army veteran who went to the Decatur Career Center and worked with Flemons, a veteran’s representative at the Department of Labor. Flemons helped Carroll work on his resume and helped him apply for jobs, eventually helping him land employment at a door manufacturing company. Carroll later went to work for LG Electronics as a safety coordinator.
Ivey used this story as a reason to call for a 2 percent pay increase for all state employees, for people like Flemons.

“Whether it is the State Trooper patrolling our highways or a social worker rescuing an abused child, we can be proud to have so many dedicated men and women who are giving their best to the people of Alabama,” she said.

Ivey next talked about the seven law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty in the state. She introduced another guest, Joanne Williams, the widow of Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams, and said she represented the families of those lost.