Article by: Amy Young
At Tuesday night’s State of the State Address, Governor Kay Ivey laid out her goals and plans for this legislative session, which started Tuesday, in what she calls “The Game Plan.” First and foremost, Governor Ivey announced she would call a special session Wednesday to address the remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding that the legislature needs to designate before the end of the year, per federal guidelines. Aside from that, her goals boiled down to three main points of focus: children, funding, and businesses.
Governor Ivey made it clear at the address that children, along with their safety and education, will be of utmost importance heading into this session. At the ground level, Governor Ivey said that she is proud that Alabama has one of the strongest pro-life laws in the country, but wants to make sure to follow up with more childcare options once the babies are born, as well as wanting to make adoption more affordable for families looking to adopt. She said that the Department of Early Childhood Education will be prioritizing budgets for the Pre-Kindergarten Program towards challenged areas. The governor also called the legislative body to pass legislation requiring kindergarten for all children in Alabama. As far as schools go, Governor Ivey said she is aiming to have increased school choice ability and having no failing elementary schools. She also proposed the creation of the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences in Demopolis, which would function like the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering, Alabama School of Math and Science, and the Alabama School of Fine Arts to prepare children for successful careers that line up with their interests.
The General Fund and Education Budgets are seeing yet another year of surplus. While there are several options on how to address those excess funds, Ivey urged the legislature to utilize the surplus in the General Fund Budget as a $400 tax rebate for taxpayers. She also praised the legislature’s foresight to fully fund the rainy-day accounts, pay down our debts, and make long-term investments that are paying off. The governor said that she hopes to invest portions of the ARPA funds and reminded Alabamians that the money isn’t a free gift and needs to be used in a way to ensure security long-term.
At the address, Governor Ivey’s third focus was business. She hopes to make small businesses a priority this session, announcing that they will be lowering the monthly prepaid tax burden. Ivey announced that she would be signing an executive order Wednesday to remove some of the red tape faced by small businesses. She hopes to invest more financially in the Main Street Program and renew the Alabama Jobs Act and the Growing Alabama Act.
The Shelby County Legislative Delegation was excited to hear Governor Ivey’s take heading into the 2023 Alabama Legislative Session and looks forward to joining the governor’s efforts to better our great state.