Sweet Home Politics

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017   |   Español

Author Archives: Kay Ivey

  1. Right Women, Right Now (Kay Ivey)

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    When I entered college in the 60s, women generally had three choices: teacher, nurse, or homemaker — very worthy occupations and endeavors, but what if you wanted to become an accountant? A doctor? An engineer? Or run for office? Those options were not readily available. 50 years later, trends have evolved to women’s benefit. In fact, more women than men now graduate from college. More women are the breadwinners than ever before and more women hold political office than ever in history. These are significant strides, but there are still advances to be made and a part of our history, an old habit, that’s hard to break. Whether it’s positive or negative, most women are raised with the notion that we have to be asked to go to the dance, even if we really want to go. A recent study on women supports this idea. It reveals 7 out of 10 women would consider running for political office, if asked. So we need to get better at asking. That’s why I am supporting a national effort to recruit the Right Women, Right Now.

    The Republican Lieutenant Governors Association and Republican State Leadership Committee are leading the charge. Qualified and capable women across the nation are being asked to run for office and serve as leaders in our state governments. They are being trained and supported with the resources of Right Women, Right Now.

    Women possess all of the necessary qualities and skills to be elected and serve as outstanding public servants, but they have to make the commitment when asked. The movement is gaining traction. Right Women, Right Now has already surpassed its goal of 300 first time women candidates well ahead of the filing deadlines for candidates across the nation, but there’s room for more. In Alabama, women currently hold a small proportion of elected offices available. On average, only 2 in 10 elected offices are held by women. This provides a tremendous opportunity for ambitious women who are willing to say yes.

    When I was elected in 2010, I became the second female Lieutenant Governor in our state’s history and the first Republican woman.

    There has never been a better time for the right women to make a difference in the public sector than right now. And they can do it in more ways than one. Women are not just capable of being effective leaders; they are capable of deciding elections. Women outnumber men among registered voters nationwide and female voters have exceeded the number of male voters in every election since 1980. The power of the woman voter is undeniable. By harnessing that power and recruiting and supporting the right candidates, the woeful underrepresentation of women in state government can be reversed.

    Learn more about Right Women, Right Now

  2. How Alabama’s Poorest County Landed Golden Dragon (Kay Ivey)

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    A phone call and impromptu site visit settled it. Chinese company Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group would build its first U.S.-based manufacturing facility in the small town of Pine Hill in Wilcox County, my home county.

    But every “overnight success” has a backstory and this one was many years in the making.

    George Alford, Director of the Wilcox County Industrial Development Authority, and Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day in neighboring Clarke County forged a working relationship through the years. With more than four decades in economic development, George knows a thing or two about forming relationships. In his words, “It’s like an old dance contest. You get a good partner and you keep dancing.” Thomasville was getting new prospects and Wilcox County had good sites. Together, they worked to attract economic development to their shared region of the state.

    In March 2011, Golden Dragon announced its plans for the U.S. manufacturing facility. After a competitive process against 62 other sites, the company selected a 50 acre plat in Thomasville. The project would add 300 new jobs and generate millions for the local economy. Meanwhile, a pipe coating company was prospecting a 260 acre site in Pine Hill.

    On a hot day in August 2011, George was meeting with Mayor Day on the company’s proposal. Mayor Day left the meeting to take what ended up being a critical phone call. The plan was off. The company had decided to triple the size of the project. It would need a bigger site and Clarke County didn’t have one. Golden Dragon Copper engineers had already begun initial work on the project so they were conveniently in town that day. Mayor Day asked George if he would let the engineers survey the site in Pine Hill. It had all the necessary amenities – water, sewer, natural gas and power and was situated adjacent to rail. Not to mention, it was five times the size of the Thomasville site. Within a few hours, Golden Dragon representatives laid eyes on the land and agreed almost on the spot. The $100 million investment and now up to 500 new jobs would be coming to Wilcox County.

    This month the company officially cuts the ribbon on the new facility. I am proud to be a part of the ceremony for this significant economic success in my home county, its first new major industry development in 45 years. Even in Alabama’s poorest county, progress is being made.

    This story is a testament to the value of local officials working together. Many State, business, and community leaders, as well as key legislation also primed the pump and played an important role in landing Golden Dragon; but at a critical moment when Alabama was at risk of losing the project to another state, it was the fortified relationship between George and Mayor Day that saved it. As George said, “We did not let a county line stop us from working together.” As the old adage goes, it’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.

  3. Financial Literacy Vital to Students’ Education and Success (Kay Ivey)

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    Growing up in rural Alabama, my parents instilled in me a strong work ethic. They taught me the value of a dollar and that hard work garners rewards. That message was reinforced when I attended Auburn University where our creed states, “I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.” This continuing theme directed my life.

    Before I entered public service in elected office, I had a career as a high school teacher and banker. I had a passion for educating students about the same lessons I’d learned growing up. I approached one of the executives at Merchants National Bank in Mobile about my idea to take financial literacy classes into the schools and he practically shooed me out of his office. I persisted and eventually he hired me to direct an economic education program for students. I knew it was important then, as I know now, for schools to teach students the important life skill of personal finance. I believe financial insecurity is one of the greatest threats facing our nation today.

    As State Treasurer, I spoke to dozens of high school groups and taught them the 10-30-30-30 plan. Tithe the first 10%, save 30% for long-term, put aside 30% for short-term, and use 30% for expenses. For many students, my formula may have been all they learned about personal finance while in high school. Unfortunately, it’s an area where education systems nationwide have fallen short.

    The facts from a recent study by the Council for Economic Education are concerning.

    • Only 56% of teens plan to save some of their income, down from 89% in 2011
    • 81% of college students underestimate how long it’ll take them to pay off a credit card balance
    • In 2010, more individuals filed for bankruptcy than graduated from college
    • Among Millenials (ages 18-34), only ⅓ have an emergency fund yet 31% have unpaid medical bills and nearly half carry a balance on their credit card

    Only 19 states require a personal finance course in high school even though 89% of individuals believe financial education should be taught in schools. The good news for Alabama is we are now one of the 19 states. As of this year, every Alabama ninth grader will take a course in personal finance. I applaud the Department of Education for addressing this need.

    It is not too late to turn the boat around for younger students. However, in the next month, thousands of Alabama high school seniors will don caps and gowns and walk across a stage to their future. Some will enter the workforce upon graduation after completing career ready courses in school, others may attend 2-year technical institutions, and many will go to college. I share the excitement of our high school seniors and their families as they celebrate a major accomplishment and look forward to a new chapter. But as students turn the page, I urge them to pause and plan for their financial futures as well.

  4. Republicans and Democrats Agree Economy is Top Priority (Kay Ivey)

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    Alabama leadership remains committed to growing the economy and job creation

    During a time of increased partisanship in our nation, coming together on a common priority for Republicans and Democrats is a rarity. But a recent Gallup poll reveals one topic on which both sides of the aisle enthusiastically agree – the economy. The poll shows both parties believe the economy is either an extremely or very important issue facing the president and Congress.

    Since coming into office, Governor Bentley, the Legislature, and I have always made the economy and job creation our top priority. To the unemployed Alabamian, there’s no greater help the government can provide right now than cultivating an environment where businesses want to develop and new jobs are created for our citizens.

    Alabama’s commitment to job creation and growing the economy is reaffirmed with each jobs announcement, groundbreaking, and ribbon-cutting. Since 2011, more than 100,000 current or future jobs have been created. That means 100,000 Alabama families have the opportunity for a better life. We recently welcomed Remington Arms to Huntsville where 2,000 Alabamians may find employment in highly-skilled, high-paying jobs. In that same week, three more companies cut ribbons on new facilities or announced plans to expand bringing 600 more jobs to Alabama.

    Job growth is not limited to one area of the state. The Department of Commerce recently announced a renewed push to help the state’s rural communities better compete for projects and jobs. Born and raised in Alabama’s Black Belt, I believe in investing in our rural counties. Golden Dragon Copper Tubing will soon open for business in rural Wilcox County, providing jobs for 500 people. It is personally encouraging to see this kind of growth in my home county where the unemployment rate is the highest in the state. In Macon County, South Korea-based Taesung is building a $6.6 million facility that will initially provide 70 jobs. That may not sound impressive next to Remington’s 2,000 jobs, but in a rural area, those jobs will have a significant impact. I applaud the efforts of the Department of Commerce and local leadership.

    From a high of 10.5 percent, Alabama’s unemployment rate is now at a five-year low of 6.1 – the lowest in the South. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still work to be done. Your leadership remains committed to growing the economy and creating jobs. Alabama is on the move and we’re moving in the right direction.

  5. Alabama Spirit Prevails as Winter Weather Wreaks Havoc on State (Kay Ivey)

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    Recent rare winter weather crippled areas of our state, created dangerous road conditions, left drivers stranded on interstates and highways with little choice but to wait it out, and parents were unable to retrieve children from schools. Gov. Robert Bentley, Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency, the Alabama National Guard and countless emergency responders prepared for and responded to the crisis promptly and effectively.

    The governor wisely declared a State of Emergency in advance of the storm, ordered the National Guard on deck, and placed EMA on alert. Once the weather set in, resources were deployed to help as many people as possible, but not everyone could be reached.

    Once again, Alabamians stepped up and filled the gap. In the 24 hours after the winter weather hammered our state, stories of everyday heroism surfaced. A woman in Trussville drove more than 100 stranded drivers home; a Chick-Fil-A operator distributed hundreds of free meals to the frustrated and hungry; a Birmingham doctor walked six miles in the ice and snow to perform life-saving brain surgery; our own Alabama Senator Slade Blackwell spent six hours pushing cars through icy streets; and schools cared for more than 11,000 children overnight. Ask most anyone, and they could share a similar story of Alabamians helping Alabamians.

    The South received quite a bit of criticism for its preparation and handling of the winter conditions, but I challenge anyone to criticize our altruism or self-sufficiency. The fact remains Southern states do not experience sub-freezing temperatures frequently and are not as well-equipped to handle the conditions, but I believe Gov. Bentley, many local leaders, and emergency responders deserve great credit for their leadership and efforts.

    In the case of loss of life in any disaster, one is too many. It is gravely unfortunate that seven Alabamians lost their lives due to weather-related incidents. I extend my sincere condolences to their families.

    It is my hope that we can learn from this experience and implement measures to increase safety and improve the State’s response next time. But one thing we have mastered is how to care for ourselves and our own people.

    Alabamians did not waste time blaming others or waiting for help to arrive. The Alabama spirit prevailed and people jumped to action. That is who we are and that is what makes our state great.