Governor highlights business, education in State of the State address

Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:09 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2023 at 10:25 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey delivered the annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Alabama Legislature Tuesday night.

Ivey invited Terry Saban to join her as her guest at the 2023 address at the state Capitol. She also invited students from University Charter School in Livingston to be in attendance.

Among the governor’s highlights was that of finances. She urged lawmakers to completely pay off the Alabama Trust Fund this year.

“That was the promise made to the people of Alabama, and we should make it a priority,” Ivey said.

She touted the state’s business climate, saying Alabama has one of the lowest overall tax burdens in the nation. She asked new lawmakers to maintain that financial footing.

In terms of allocating the second round of American Rescue Plan Act funds from Congress, she said “we must invest these one-time funds wisely.” ARPA provided a total of $2.1 billion to Alabama during the pandemic. It’s not yet clear which entities and priorities the lawmakers will focus on, but there are talks about wastewater infrastructure, broadband and rural health care.

Ivey announced a special session for the Legislature for Wednesday to address these funds.

The governor said she wants to put nearly a $1 billion back into the hands of Alabamians through one-time rebates of $400, and $800 for families.

She is also proposing a $200 million grant program known as the Main Street Program to help revitalize small cities and towns.

Ivey will sign an executive order to “cut red tape” on businesses. She said she is aiming to cut business regulations by 25% over the next two years.

She also addressed education, saying she wants to improve student outcomes. She said there has been tangible results from the state’s First Class Pre-K program. She also said she has instructed the Department of Early Childhood Education to prioritize funding classrooms in the “most challenged areas” of the state.

“No matter the zip code, a child should be able to get a strong start in their educational journey,” she said.

The governor also urged lawmakers to adopt legislation to ensure students are ready for the first grade, saying, “It’s also past time we require our students to complete kindergarten.”

Ivey also said she has a goal of raising the starting salary for Alabama teachers, saying she wants those salaries to be the highest in the Southeast by the end of her term.

Following Ivey’s address, state Rep. Anthony Daniels gave the Democratic response. He said he agreed with most of Ivey’s remarks but felt some things were left out. He said she did not address eliminating the tax from overtime pay and removing grocery sales tax, as well as getting control of the supply chain. He also said he wished the governor had talked more about education outside of pre-K.

Daniels also said the governor did not talk about health care expansion enough.

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