By Zach Hester, Reporter • firstname.lastname@example.org (Photo by Jake Crandall | The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — On Tuesday night, Governor Kay Ivey (R-Ala.) delivered her annual State of the State address — this time, virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Signaling the start of the 2021 Legislative Session, the governor’s message was focused on a robust agenda involving pay raises for teachers and state employees, more pandemic-related protocols, and several bills that will be focused on during the upcoming session.
Ivey reported an unemployment rate of 2.7%, the lowest rate in the history of the State of Alabama before the pandemic struck the economy. According to Ivey, the unemployment rate grew to 13.3% last April, but has fallen back to 3.9% in December.
“We were seeing economic prosperity all around and, we were dealing with the wonderful problem of more jobs than people to fill them,” said Ivey. “During the past 12 months, Alabama — like the rest of the country — had no choice but to deal with one giant challenge after another...Despite all that was thrown at us, Alabamians remained grounded and kept our resolve. You never gave up.”
Ivey stated her agenda begins with an open, transparent relationship with the Legislature.
She listed top priorities for the upcoming year, including:
- A measure to ensure everyone who received CARES Act dollars will not pay state income taxes on that relief money
- Renewal of economic development incentives to rebuild a diverse economy
- Legislation that will allow businesses to avoid lawsuits that might come because of COVID-19
- A 2% pay increase for teachers and state employees
- Addressing the State of Alabama’s “weak link” in infrastructure in the area of broadband and internet connectivity
- Further investments in infrastructure
- Moving forward with criminal justice and prison reform
- Establishing a transparent process to propose an “approach to gambling [that is] in the best interest of our state”
“I hope that as Alabama continues to make progress, we remember the lessons of history,” Ivey concluded. “We must consider our challenges ahead as more than momentary struggles and view them in the lenses of our legacy. Remember, there is nothing we cannot achieve when we work together.”
To view the full transcript of Governor Ivey’s address, please visit governor.alabama.gov.